Tag Archives: mediterranean

Popularising The Humble Hummus

There can be nothing more comforting than a bowl of hummus to dip warm pita bread into or even raw vegetable sticks when watching TV at home, or simply reading a book. I can gorge on hummus any time of the day and with almost anything.

A staple in the Middle East and Greece, hummus is a dip made of chickpeas ( Kabuli chanas), tahini or sesame, garlic, lemon juice and salt and of course Extra Virgin Olive oil and perhaps paprika flakes and is simple to make. However, one must have good quality ingredients and use them in the right proportion.

What’s more, packed with protein, fibre, it is tasty as well as healthy too and handy for quick snacks, lunches, party dips and what have you. There is so much you can do with hummus.

I love the basic plain hummus, but love exciting variants too. Of late, hummus has moved beyond its core ingredients to embrace flavours. People are clearly in the mood to experiment with different varieties of hummus.

I personally prefer to make hummus a day in advance and refrigerate it. The flavours tend to develop better, especially the garlic and the mixture thickens to the consistency, I enjoy. And voila! It is ready to be eaten.

I have often searched for the right hummus in Mumbai. Of course some restaurants serve it, but that is not feasible or viable to take away. Many other places offer it, but the quality and authenticity leaves a lot to be desired. Invariably, I am disappointed.

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Recently, I stumbled upon a hummus from Chef’s Basket (Fizzy Foodlabs) at the Nature’s Basket store in Lokhandwala, Andheri West.  With trepidation I picked up the attractively packaged box of fresh garlic hummus, priced affordably too. I came home and tried it. It not just met my expectations, but surpassed it, I must confess.

The texture was perfect, the flavours, authentic and palate-pleasing. And it struck me as fresh, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Just the way I make it at home. Oh! My joy knew no bounds. Finally my search for the perfect hummus had ended.

I am a self-confessed hummus addict. I can have it daily. New flavours in hummus excite me and I too keep experimenting. Sun dried tomatoes, basil, there is so much you can add to a hummus. Even herbs, Indian spices and more. Only, balance is key.

Am happy to see that hummus has moved to supermarket shelves and become more accessible and affordable. With Chef’s Basket offering Beetroot Hummus and Roasted Bell Pepper hummus, I am eagerly waiting to try those.

Got to put on my thinking caps as to how to use these two hummus variants when I buy them. Any suggestions as to what I should pair it with?

 

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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!

 

Watch out for Nico!

An entry into Nico Bombay, transports you to a cafe in Europe.  The high ceiling, minimalistic decor, adds to the elegance.

The music is infectious and sets the mood for a perfect Sunday lunch. The menu may seem limited, but covers everything a gourmet may want to sample. Specialising in authentic wood-fired oven Napolitano – gourmet flat breads, Eastern and Western Mediterranean inspired Mezzes, Modern European Mains with classics such as a Spaghetti Vongole and Confit Duck Leg are a part of their gastronomical fare.

The flat breads at Nico Bombay are made with high quality flour, farm fresh cheese, premium organic ingredients and cooked in the authentic wood fired oven from Italy.

Having learnt the art of the Napolitano pizza from the master himself, Enzo Coccia, Nico Goghavala has made use of the carefully honed, age old methods, specially selected starters, exceptional flour and high quality, well-conceived toppings for their flat breads.

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From the pizza or flat breads, as they call them, we try Enzo- Pumpkin Flowers, Burrata, Oven Roasted Tomatoes. We are rendered speechless. The Burrata is luscious and smooth and compliments the other topping ingredients.

The Kadaifi Wrapped Prawns, Citrus Mousseline, is par excellence. Succulent prawns and the covering is absolutely wow. The chef’s eye for presentation is evident from each dish that is served. Poetry on plate, literally.

Nico Bombay endeavours to treat the diner to the freshest local produce which are used as their key ingredients, hence encouraging a very farm to table concept. I like that.

Goat Cheese, Caramelised Onion, Sour Cream Puff, arrives next. The topping is delicious, but the crumbly puff does not appeal to us. Balsamic Baby Beets, Caramelised Walnuts, Burrata, our salad sweeps me off my feet. Looks appealing and tastes even better. The caramalised walnuts lend an interesting flavour to the beet. A one-of-its-kind, melt in the mouth salad, worth a try for sure.

Risotto, Ravioli, Beef fillet, Roast chicken. The mains have these and more. There is enough Vegetarian fare too. Oven Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, Amoretti Crumbs, Asparagus Pea Risotto, Shaved Asparagus Parmesan Foam et al.

The quantity of olive oil in the food is a wee bit too much.

Mini Savarins, Citrus Jelly, Tropical Fruits was what was recommended for dessert. Good, but not extraordinary like the rest of our meal. Maybe Chocolate Fondant, Strawberry Granita  would have been a better bet.

Not only, the ambience, the service and food quality, is definitely world class.  For those who enjoy their drinks. The menu is exhaustive and the bartender, creative.

Nico Bombay is going to give some of the fine-dining eateries in Mumbai a run for their money. Way to go.

Grillopolis in Kurla

Grillopolis, the Mediteraanean restaurant, in Andheri West is now in Kurla too. The Resturant opened with much fanfare on Wednesday April 18 at Phoenix Market City, Mall at LBS Marg, Kurla. The best grill delights from Turkish, Lebanese, Moroccan, Portuguese, Spanish and Greek cuisines can be sampled at Grillopolis. This restaurant never disappoints. The starters comprising prawns, chicken, an intersting Yam n green peas cutlet, Mushroom quiche, followed by Spanish Paella, Grilled Quail,  Roasted chicken drumsticks, and more, in the main course buffet, were a delight for the palate. The desserts like the saffron rice pudding, mousse, were however a bit of a let down except the Turkish baklava.

Despite the crowd, the service was efficient and quick. All in all, an enjoyable evening. Waiting to go back again.

Quick Stuffed chicken : Recipe

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts( 400gms)

Two onions finely chopped

15 Olives finely chopped

4 cloves of  garlic finely chopped

1/4 tsp Rosemary

1/4 tsp Thyme

a pinch of Oregano

Worcestershire sauce

Olive oil

salt to taste

Method:

Thaw chicken breasts, slit horizontally making an enevelope, apply salt and marinate.

Saute onions in olive oil, add all the herbs, chopped olives, garlic, sauce and mix. Fill this mixture in the chicken, brush chicken with olive oil and grill for 22 minutes ( 11 mins each side) till brown. Serve with mashed potatoes or garlic bread.