Tag Archives: kebabs

Nawaabon Ke Kebab

Mostly Grills, the rooftop barbecue restaurant at The Orchid, Mumbai, has always been one of my fav dining places in the city, thanks to the great food and spectacular view.

I was delighted to go there yet again, albeit after a long gap. And there was ample reason too, as they were hosting the biggest kebab trail.

Chef Shadaab from Lucknow, has curated an interesting menu, to tantalize the taste buds of diners with an array of eclectic kebabs,from the lands of erstwhile nawabs – Awadh (Lucknow), Nizams and other kingdoms, that are famous for their kebabs.

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The place had been transformed completely into a haven for diners, complete with ghazals, artifacts and decor representative of the Nawabi lifestyle. The era had been beautifully recreated.

The melt in the mouth galouti kebab, arrived first. My all time favorite kebab. It did not disappoint me. The texture was perfect and the flavours, authentic. The Kakori kebab, I thought, might pale in comparison, but Chef Shadaab, did not let me down here too. The mince boasted of  great textures and robust flavours, replete with spices, so characteristic of this kebab.

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The accompanying chutneys were unique too. I particularly found the banana and tamarind one to be palate-tickling.

I was blown away with the shinghara atta and corn tikki. Yes, water chestnut flour had been dexterously paired with corn to make a delectable tikki.

The highlight of the dinner was the live trolley where chef  was making kebabs and other barbecue items live in front of  us. Oh! What a spectacle that was. I could not help, but admire the manner in which the kebabs were being adroitly flambeed by chef.

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The Mawa and dry fruit sheekh was a delight for the palate, where the sweetness of dry fruits was cleverly balanced with the meat. Chef Shadaab is truly a master of his craft.

The piece de resistance was the Tatari champ. Kid lamb chops marinated overnight with Andhra chili, cumin, cloves and pure ghee cooked in tandoor. An absolute treat for carnivores. Gourmets can also feast on Maheen Samak tikka (Bekti fish marinated with ginger garlic and aromatic herbs slow cooked live)

Chef Shadaab who hails from Alamganj, Lucknow  had a plethora of vegetarian offerings too, which according to him, the Royals feasted upon.

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In the vegetarian section, my vote went to the Meve mave ki khaas sheekh (Cottage cheese treated with condensed milk , saffron and nuts and char grilled live. Being a lover of potatoes, I relished the Tandoor Bharwan Lahori Aloo  too, where the potatoes were scooped and stuffed with spices, raisins and almonds.

The chef has procured the spices and other condiments from various places to ensure the authentic taste.

The food struck me as unique, with authenticity being  showcased in each dish. The ingredients used, were of good quality and completely fresh.

What do I say about the biryanis, niharis, salans and special Indian breads, which were on offer. Sheermal, Baqarkhani, Khamiri roti , laccha paratha, lasooni naan were delightfully paired with lip-smacking gravies and salans.

Each dish was authentic and well-prepared, using the slow cooking methods of that region and as per the demands of that cuisine. Some of the non vegetarian main course dishes are Shahi Nihari (Lamb shanks simmered on low heat cooked overnight served with Khamera naan), Degi Gosht (Baby lamb cooked with coconut, cumin and tamarind flavour gravy), Achari jhinga (Tiger prawns stir fried in Hyderabadi pickled spice, finished with tamarind pulp), Pudina machli ka salan (Pomfret cooked with onion, tomato, and mint gravy).

The food was flavourful, but yes, rich and heavy. But I guess once in a while, with spread like this, one can do with a bit of indulgence.

As in a royal repast, I finished my meal with Sewiyan ka Muzaffar (Vermicelli cooked win condensed milk topped with nuts).

There were other options too, but of course I skipped those. Sheer kurma, Khubani ka meetha, Shahi Tukda, Shahi Falooda. A paan counter too is part of the festival, for those who want to digest their food.

With Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh’s ghazals fading away in the background, I made my way out of Mostly Grills, after a memorable Kebab Trail and hospitality, fit for the nawabs.

On till April 17, 2016 only for dinner, don’t miss this if Kebabs are what appeases your taste buds.

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Ramzan Repast

I had heard so much about the delectable Ramzan food at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai where every year many of my friends and family head to savour the sumptuous spread. But somehow a trip there has always eluded me. So when the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust(SBUT) Mumbai very generously invited me for a food walk, I decided not to miss the opportunity in spite of the downpour all day yesterday. Nothing was going to deter me today, I thought.

We were warmly greeted by the SBUT team at their office and shown around, after which we trooped to the streets armed with our umbrellas and folded trousers/ salwars.

Our first stop was the Haji Tikka house where the aroma of charcoal grilled meats permeated our nostrils and made us hungrier. Chicken tikka, drumsticks, mutton sheekhs, kaleji et al were on offer. I relished only the chicken tikka and drumsticks. Mouth- watering stuff which had unique flavours that one can never find in a restaurant. Standing under a tin roof, by the side of the road, chatting and munching hot tikkas, to the sound of the heavy rain, was a rustic and memorable experience. Equally fascinating was to spectacle of the  guy effortlessly and expertly moulding the kebabs and grilling them a la minute.

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Indian Hotel next door was the second halt. Mutton in all forms was served, Baida roti made of maida, eggs and mince, fried into crisp pieces. Lip smacking. Similar to the Bengali moghlai paratha, though not exactly. The naan chaap was more of a burger bun with the mutton chaap sandwiched in between. Tasty, but not extraordinary.  The mutton roll cut into small pieces almost resembled a spring roll. Succulent pieces of mutton were rolled in a maida covering. The owner regaled us with anecdotes as we chomped on our food. About 180 kgs of mutton was used daily during Ramzan in the earlier days. He said chicken was a relatively new phenomenon as many people nowadays prefer chicken. But gourmets clearly come here to relish the meat delicacies. I could see that for myself as cars stopped and people kept entering the place.

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Surti 12 Handi came next. Various parts of the goat – gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), pichota (tail), paya (trotters), etc are stewed separately in  different vessels with various masalas. The curries are then mixed together. Unfortunately, I decided to skip the paya, as this kind of organ meat does not appeal to my palate or senses. Served with large Indian breads called Qabooz, my friends were enjoying it.

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We saved the best for the last. Tawakkal sweets was undoubtedly, the best place as far as I was concerned. Melt in the mouth mango phirni, eggless and egg malpuas with malai, mango malai were some of the sweets we gorged on. Rich and creamy, these were enough to make one pile on calories in a jiffy, but we were indulging in guilty pleasure. The person outside fried hot malpuas in a kadai, while another served phirni from packed trays arriving regularly from their workshop across.

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The saancha or hand churned ice cream at Taj Ice cream, I had heard so much about was a dampner. A real let down. I found it too synthetic and rich. The sitaphal flavour supposedly his best selling ice cream was disappointing. The mango was a bit better. But nothing could erase the memory of the mango phirni.

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The trip surpassed my expectations. My taste buds were satiated and after an enjoyable experience, we headed back home.  This Ramzan would remain etched in my memory for a long time to come. Truly a haven for foodies, go there if you have not already.

 

Mini Punjab in Mumbai?

Punjabi food occupies a pride of place in Indian cuisine. Most people enjoy it and I am no exception. After all,  I am a Punjabi by birth. The spice content and variety is what make it popular. It is easily available across India  at small roadside eateries to Five star Hotels. Punjabi food is a must on the menu of most Indian restaurants. Mumbai is replete with Punjabi food.

North Indian cuisine mainly comprises dairy products; like milk, paneer, ghee, and yoghurt. Gravies are typically dairy-based. Punjabi cuisine includes home made preparations which are easy to cook and for which the ingredients are locally available or locally produced. Even spices which are used are not very exotic as other cuisines. Only regular spices such as bay leaf, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin, red chili are used.

The use of the “tawa” for baking flat breads like roti, paratha, naan, Kulcha and “tandoor” is common. The most popular dish of Punjab is the Makki Ki roti aur sarson ka saag. The dals are a specialty of Punjabi cuisine. Made of whole pulses like black gram, green gram and Bengal gram, they are cooked on a slow fire, often simmered for hours till they turn creamy and then are flavoured with spices and rounded off with a dollop of butter. Tandoori chicken, Amritsari Macchi, Chole Bhatura, Baingan Bhartha, Missi roti, Sarson da saag, Rajma masala, are other typical favourites.

Masala Mantar is a great place for Punjabi food in Mumbai. Urban Tadka in Andheri  is known for its wholesome Punjabi food. Pratap’s The Dhaba, is one of my favourites. Copper Chimney serves some of the best kebabs. Oye Punjabi is also good for certain dishes. The Great Punjab in Bandra is another hot spot. Of course Five Star Hotels serve delectable Punjabi cuisine.

Adhering to the culinary trends of the city, The Funjabi Tadka cuisine by Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi at Cest La Vie Bandra recently was essentially North Indian, rustic and home-style. Kadak Kulcha Aur Choley, Mushroom Ki Galouti Kabab, Fish Tikka Afghani, Beetroot aur Amley ka Kabab, Lawrence Road Ka Tandoori Murgh, were some memorable dishes.

Gulmurg, the fine dining restaurant at Shalimar Hotel, Kemps also recently organised  a Punjabi food festival titled, “Gurdaspur to Batinda-” where one could savour some lip smacking Punjabi food replete with authentic masalas and cooking techniques.

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Master Chef finalist  Jyoti Arora is in Mumbai this week, and is cooking dishes for the Punjabi Food Festival at JW Marriott Mumbai. A housewife from Punjab, Jyoti has been cooking since 29 years. A typical housewife, Jyoti takes pride in feeding people with her innovations, especially in Punjabi cuisine. I can’t wait to dig into the delectable fare she will be preparing. Will remind me of my mum’s home-cooked food I bet.

 

Dine under the stars n sky!

It is always a pleasure to dine outdoors in Mumbai and what better season than now? It was a delight to step into Flames, the al fresco dining place at Hilton Mumbai. The restaurant had just opened in November and will be open till March.

Chef Merajjudin Ansari, Executive Sous chef has decided to give the menu a makeover. This year, guests will be able to indulge in inventive kebabs and biryanis inspired by Awadhi spices and flavours. I was intrigued.

The menu looked wholesome and appealing. An interesting amalgamation of kebabs, biryani, served with dal makhni. A complete meal. Of course vegetarian and non vegetarian options abound. Chicken kebab marinated with cardamom and cashewnuts, called Noori Kebab is what we started with. The marinade was flavourful and unique. Kesari jhinga was again a delight for the taste buds. The prawns were well-grilled and the saffron added the right zest to it. Chapli Kebab, lamb mince kebabs flavoured with dried pomegranate were exquisite. On the lines of a shammi kebab, yet, different.  For vegetarians, Firdousi aloo is delectable and Vegetable Galouti Kebab, made with yam, plantain and pumpkin spiced with black cardamom was a real culinary treat. Chef Meraj, clearly believes in innovation. None of the kebabs had overpowering spices. A lot of emphasis was laid upon presentation too.

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The bread basket comes with the kebabs and had warqui, laccha, methi parathas, roomali rotis. The chicken dum biryani, which came last, was the best part of our meal. One of the best biryanis I have eaten in Mumbai. The spices were well-blended to create a magical flavour. It was moist, zesty and not at all oily. We were satiated.

Desserts include delicious creations like Barwan Gulab Jamun filled with Dark Chocolate, Jalebi sticks with Chocolate Rabdi, and Butter Milk and Star Anise Panna Cotta with Grand Marnier Chantilly. I personally did not enjoy the gulab jamuns as I felt the chocolate interfered with the gulab jamun’s indigenous flavour, instead of enhancing it. The baked yoghurt with mascarpone cheese and saffron was delicious and a class apart.

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Flames is open every day for dinner, from 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm. So, if you like to dine under the stars and sky, trust me there can be no better place and the Awadhi delicacies too are unparalleled.

 

A Dash of Innovation

I can never tire of eating kebabs. I simply love them. But was wondering how new, could kebabs get as I entered MoMo Café, at Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai. Expected to see the same Reshmi, Sheekh and Shammi Kebabs, Paneer Tikkas, on the menu. But I was in for a surprise. Chef Amit Dash, the new Executive Sous Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai, ensures that the kebab experience is different and one-of-its-kind. His kebabs are truly innovative.

Murg paan kebab, dahi kebab, prawn spiked with brandy, katori galouti, kebabs made of lotus stems, mushrooms. Wow! And it’s not as if the names were unique only. Each ingredient used was interesting. The kebabs were not doused with a dozen spices, suppressing the flavours of the meats and vegetables. Instead, spices were used sparingly to bring out the flavours. The marination was primarily yoghurt but the spices blend with it gave it a different spin.

The murg paan kebab, chicken blended with betel leaves paste was exotic. A real treat.  The flavours of the prawns were enhanced with the brandy and they simply melt in the mouth. Equally unique was the dahi kebab, although a tad too soft. Nuts had been used innovatively with hung curd in this kebab.  The katori galouti had an interesting katori made of dough laced with spices in which the galouti was placed.  I have never had such a galouti kebab before. The mushrooms were delicious too. Only the paneer was a bit disappointing as the paneer was tough and rubbery in texture.

All the kebabs were not predictably grilled in the tandoor. Chef Dash believes that kebabs can be made using different styles of cooking too as required.  Some were shallow fried, some deep fried and others grilled.

Chef Dash never ceased to surprise us that evening. Each kebab was distinctive.  The kebabs wee a wholesome meal on their own and one really did not need to savour anything else despite the lavish spread on the buffet

Dil Garden Garden Ho Gaya

It is always a pleasure to dine at The Club, D.N. Nagar Andheri West. The food is outstanding and the place exudes warmth that is unparalleled. With Awadhi cuisine specialist, Master Chef Mohammad Aslam Qureshi being there this season at Garden Grill, the outdoor restaurant, a visit was a must.

Cheerfully greeted, by the staff, we were seated comfortably at a table which allowed us a good view of the melodious Ghazal singers as well. The Murg tukra shorba had delectable flavours, which helped create an appetite. Hot and tangy, it was comforting to eat. The kebab platter was a delight. The highlight was the chicken kulfi (chicken mice stuffed in chicken drumsticks with aromatic spices n yoghurt). It reminded of a chicken karela kebab I used to eat at Sai Palace at Andheri east many eons ago. Aslam ke Kebab with lamb mince n lentils, was a tad disappointing I must confess.  Vegetarians could gorge on Paneer Tikke and Khumbh Amritsari.

The multi grain rotis in the main course were crunchy yet soft and paired well with the Dal Makhni and the Muroko Mutton Korma. The flavour of the spices and mutton, filled the air as the dish arrived on the table. Boneless pieces of mutton simply melt in my mouth. Butter chicken, Tariwali Machi are other must try for non-vegetarians while the others can relish Zafrani Malai Kofta or Bagar Baigan. The menu is really innovative yet traditional. Lasooni Palak is a real treat. Opt for Amritsari Kulchas if you enjoy a heavy meal and pair them with cholas. And of course there is the famous Biryani too. Awadhi cuisine at its best.

We tried the phirni, which was an apology of the real one. Diluted and not at all creamy. Gajar halwa, gulab jamuns maybe safer bets.

Overall a hearty and robust meal, with mellifluous gahazals and nostalgia.

 

 

Variety is the spice of life: Carafe, Peninsula Grand

It’s not everyday that one walks into a lesser known Hotel and discovers great food. Carafe , the 24 x 7 Coffee Shop at The Peninsula Grand in Andheri East took me completely by surprise.

Carafe, the 24 hours coffee shop has a spread for the Sunday brunch. All one has to do is sit back and relax, enjoy food from across India as well as global delicacies. The Cream of Mushroom and Chicken soup, set the tone of the meal. It was delicious and made me nostalgic about the soups I used to have in my childhood. I was already looking forward to the rest of the meal.

The kebab platter, was easily one of the best I have ever tasted. The chicken kebabs were marinated to perfection, well spiced and succulent. The fish had the tangy ajwaini flavour and was fresh, crisp and yet melt in the mouth. Of course the version of Pina Colada mocktail served by them was delightful. Creamy, sweet and refreshing, the mocktail was interestingly presented in a scooped pineapple shell.

The main course options were an exercise in choices. Mutton rogan josh, Sabzi kalimirch, Peas pulao, Burmese curry, noodles. There was something for every palate. The food was flavoursome, well-presented and delicious. It was definitely the regular kind of food one experiences at a buffet. The Executive Chef Crystal Mendonca’s expertise and imagination were clearly visible.

Desserts too were a spread. Gajar halwa, Swedish apple tart, pastries, bappa doi, mousse. The Swedish apple tart is a must-try as is the bappa doi. Light and creamy, the bappa doi will have you yearning for more.

Attentive, well mannered staff with quick, efficient service completes the enjoyable dining experience. What’s more the buffet on Sunday includes a complimentary spa treatment at the Caressa Spa. So it is indulgence all the way. Don’t deprive yourself of this treat.