Tag Archives: menu

Progressive, Yet Indian

A visit to Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, is always a coveted experience. The cutting edge techniques used to showcase progressive modern Indian cuisine is after all, make the food here unique and memorable. 

The prospect of sampling the all new sixteen course Tasting Menu, seemed both intimidating and exciting. 

Comfortably seated in this elegant restaurant, I was ready to embark upon my journey. Plated with molecular magic, the dishes looked appetizing and boasted of the characteristic flamboyance of this place.

I was ready to surrender myself to Chef Vaibhav’s culinary magic and expect the unexpected on my table. In keeping with Masala Library’s philosophy, Chef Saurabh Udinia has passionately and artfully designed the new menu, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of traditional Indian fare with innovation and progressive presentation techniques.

My Amuse Bouche – mango egg, which looked like egg yolk in shells arrived. Of course they were not. Mango cream was what we were served and one could just gulp it down. I was off to a delicious start.

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The Deconstructed Samosa did not remotely resemble a samosa but was true in all its elements in terms of ingredients. The Charcoal Bhajjia, did not impress me. The lotus stem crisp with radish dip was exquisite to look at and in terms of flavours too. The lamb galouti was a pleasant surprise as it did not look anything like the usual one we normally savour. But the texture and flavour were perfect. The laccha paratha and Gujarati kadhi I thought were a bit too mismatched.

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The prawns with thayir sadam  or curd rice, were delightful and the contrast in the textures enhanced the experience manifold. The chicken tikka looked most ordinary when it arrived on the table but wowed me completely with its spices and marination. It simply melt in my mouth.

The desserts were an absolute treat, in keeping with the entire dining experience. The jalebi caviar with rabdi is something no one can tire of and I am no exception. Executed with precision and bursting with flavours, it is the stuff dreams are made of. 

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Each dish surpassed the previous one and I could not really decide which one my vote go to that evening. The food was carefully crafted, skillfully plated and cleverly executed. Many a time it could leave you guessing long after you had a bite of it. There were elements of drama but no unnecessary gimmicks. Everything only to enhance the dining experience and pulled off with panache. 

Impeccable service, articulate staff. And of course a superlative dining experience. Masala Library always spices up my meals.

Rating : 4.2/5

 

 

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Around the World in 52 weeks

A new cuisine every Friday for 52 weeks? Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? World Streat Food Delicatessen and Taproom at Dalamal Towers, Nariman Point Mumbai is the place which accomplishes this magical feat.

 

At affordable prices in a contemporary restaurant with a warm vibe one can relish a new cuisine each week at a week-long festival or order from the exhaustive a la carte menu. Equally varied is the bar menu with exciting cocktails.

I was fortunate to experience the South East Asian food festival as that is one of my favourite cuisines. The menu was exciting and there was a fair amount of variety including several vegetarian options.

A comforting bowl of Laksa was what I began my meal with. Well-made, the ingredients were fresh and of a great quality and the spices, authentic. The creamy  coconut milk based soup was filling and I thoroughly relished it given the rainy season in Mumbai. There were other options too from Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Philippines and so on.

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The Singapore curry puff seemed inviting, but I decided to skip it in favour of the Murtabak. This crispy stuffed pancake with chicken, eggs, potato and spices, was strongly reminiscent of the Moghlai Paratha in Kolkata. Delicious with a generous amount of filling, this was a palate pleaser. The Thai dumplings, usually my favourite, paled in comparison today.

 

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Nasi Goreng, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Phad Phak, there was a lot to choose from.  I opted for the Phuket’s Chilli Basil rice upon the recommendation of the Manager and when it arrived, I was grateful to him for his recommendation.

Served with the fiery Tabonjan sauce, in the center, it perked up my taste buds instantly and set my palate tingling.

For dessert I skipped the typical Tub Tim Grob and settled for the Indonesian custard Kopyar instead. Pieces of tender coconut in a creamy coconut based custard were delightful. The tramisu from the a la carte menu sounded delectable too.

Italian Tiramisu (1)

The al la carte menu is equally a gourmand’s delight – Mee Goreng, Iran Mughlai Biryani, and Brazil Habanero Chilli Prawns Soups like Canada Cheese Burger Soup, Thailand Tom Kha. There is something for every palate.

Mexican Veg toastadas

Tempting desserts like the Japan Matcha Cake to Thailand’s Tub Tim Grob, Sweden Kladdkka, Austrian Sachertorte are bound to make you indulge in these sinful choices.

Taproom, of this exquisite restaurant is  a hotspot for youngsters, as Crafted Beers and Bottled Wines are being served from  across the world.

The varied range of teas and coffees struck me as impressive. Italy Espresso, Turkey Turkish Coffee, India Desi Coffee, New Zealand Flat White to England Earl Grey, Thailand Thai Iced Tea, Morocco Maghrebi Mint Tea. Whew! Those were some offerings.

The impeccable service, warm vibe, good food which is easy-on-the wallet along with the stellar concept of sampling a new world cuisine each week throughout the year, is bound to make gourmet’s like me come back often to sample a new cuisine.

 

Chai, Teas & More……

A cuppa tea is welcome anytime for a tea lover like me. Can never resist a well-made one and when it is in a great ambience, even better. The newly opened Tea Trails at Vile Parle, close to the station, offered the perfect excuse to make trip there. India’s first chain of Tea Cafés which serves carefully curated range of the finest Teas & Eats  had after all launched their 11th outlet.

The inside area of the cafe is bright and cheerful, well-lit with high ceilings. It exudes a warmth which is so unpretentious. There is an outdoor seating area too, which is perfect at this time of the year.

The outlet  is characterized by its specialty teas, loose leaves, custom blends, mindful tea preparation and sourcing, equipment and tea-related paraphernalia, new approaches to the tea service, and new ways to experience tea.

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The menu is exhaustive as far as the tea and chai offerings are concerned. Indian teas, herbal teas, kulhad chai, floral and fragrant teas. Something for every tea lover’s palate. The specialty teas include Smokey Chinese Lapsang Souchong and the South African Red among several others.

The eats are exciting too and quirky. We tried the Eggs Kejriwal, with fried and fluffy eggs served wrapped on a pav. A filling snack and boasted of the quintessential Mumbai flavour but the chewy pavs diluted the effect. Should have been toasted or grilled.

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The samosa thauk I thought was unique and the gravy in which the samosas were immersed was tangy and delicious. The Teazza – pizza with tea herbs was delightful and a good example of innovation.

Vegetarian dishes is what this cafe offers . but there is a lot of variety. It also serves some egg dishes.

The teas are delectable and served by the well-informed staff. The fruity infusion I tried was comforting. Although I felt, the teas are a wee bit overpriced for that quantity.

The staff is warm and friendly and the service unobtrusive.

Overall,  the decor  in black and green, is inspired from their theme “a cup of life” and is replete with a modern, vibrant and friendly vibe. This is certainly the perfect place to relax and unwind over a cup of tea.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

House of Aroma : Lemon Leaf

This truly was a case of taking your neighbourhood eatery for granted. Lemon Leaf has been in Andheri West, Mumbai for a while now and I have never visited it. During the Chinese New Year, when an exciting menu was on offer, I decided to check this place out.

On a weekday evening too, this place was buzzing. Upon entering there was a positive and warm vibe to this restaurant, which I instantly fell in love with. Ameya’s professional and warm welcome, added to the feel-good factor. We were off to a great start.

The menu for the festival was limited but complete with something for everyone. My Golden Corn & Crabmeat Soup was a delight for the palate. Mildly spiced and yet, delectable. It boasted of distinct crabmeat flavours. Set my taste buds tingling alright.

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The BBQ chicken Baos were equally well-made. Steamed to perfection and a generous amount of BBQ chicken enveloped within. Quite filling actually.

The Chicken Siu Mai was aesthetic to look at and packed with flavours. Flavoursome and replete with a myriad textures, it provided the right bite. The accompanying sauces were equally adept at wowing the palate.

Chicken Siu Mai with Pickled ginger

The other options on the menu were 3 Mushroom Dumpling with mushroom broth, Pepper fried Chicken Piccata – with pickled vegetables and so on.

The service I noticed, despite the packed restaurant, was prompt and efficient. Kudos!

For main course, we were recommended the Hakka egg noodles and it paired exceedingly well with our shredded chicken, in a piquant and spicy sauce. The liberal amount of chicken in the sauce along with an oh-so! generous portion of noodles proved to be a meal that satiated us.

We rounded off our meal with a Hazelnut chocolate pot with toffee sauce and a dollop of Vanilla ice cream. I loved the panache with which it was served to us. The hard outer shell of the chocolate pot melted with the hot sauce and gave way to the creamy mousse within. A well-presented dessert and decadent to taste as well. Only the vanilla ice cream could have been creamier.

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No additives, no MSG, no artificial flavours. The food at Lemon Leaf indeed surpassed my expectations. I was glad I had finally discovered this restaurant. This visit was definitely just the beginning.

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

Jeon Comes To Juhu

Juhu, one of the upmarket western suburbs of Mumbai beckoned me yet again. This time, another stretch, another hotel. Hotel Sea Princess where I was stepping in after a decade or more. Nothing had really taken me here the last few years. The food was nothing to boast about but thankfully this has changed with Jeon, the all day dining restaurant that has opened recently.

Lamb stew with creamy polenta

Multi cuisine dishes is what this place serves and an extensive buffet for dinner as well. The food menu has been designed by gourmand Dharmesh Karmokar and their all day specials include a list of global and Indian favourites – Balti Spiced Chicken, Bekti and Crab Cakes, Macadamia crusted lamb rack, Mushroom Ravioli, Pizzas and an elaborate Indian menu.

A Chicken and fennel soup is what I began my meal with. Comforting, flavourful and aromatic. It appeased my taste buds instantly.

Balti Chicken

 

Chef Brian Louis recommended Balti spiced chicken. Well presented, I however found the dish did not live upto its name and was a tad too bland. The chicken skewers were grilled to perfection but lacked the zesty flavours I was eagerly awaiting.  The garlic mayonnaise served along, did not help.

The Bekti and crab cakes made up for this one though. Soft and creamy, the crab cakes were melt in the mouth with the right amount of flavour and zing to it.

The Harissa crusted Basa  we ordered for our Mains, was a pleasant surprise. Crisp, well fried and the crust lent a unique flavour to the fish. Served with pok choy and hollandaise sauce, it was a dish I will not forget easily. But the portions, I thought could have been more generous, given the price.

The ravioli in mushroom sauce was equally delectable and the ravioli was generously filled. Obviously the Italian fare here is good.

We decided to settle for desserts from the buffet and opted for a fruit custard and gajar ka halwa. The gajar ka halwa was sweet, creamy and the way it should be, but alas! the fruit custard with tinned fruits was a disappointment. The fruits, completely marred the taste of the custard. Fresh fruits would have been a better and safer bet.

Jeon Interior 2

Overall, Jeon with its lively ambience and chic decor, great service and good food has the potential to become a dining hotspot in Juhu, if a bit of tweaking is done.

Rating: 3/5

Be Desi, Buy Desi : Desi Deli

I am a great one for lauding the efforts of home chefs. No wonder Lolita Sarkar, who is a home chef turned entrepreneur, intrigues me and we decide to visit her newly opened, lil’ eatery in Bandra Reclamation, called Desi Deli.

Lolita herself, greets us warmly and patiently explains the concept behind Desi Deli. An Advertising film maker turned entrepreneur in the food space. Impressive. She has always enjoyed cooking for large numbers at home parties and strived to create something new in her dishes. With friends and family, relishing her hot dogs, Lolita began taking baby steps in this direction. A few pop ups across the city, gave her the much needed confidence and then, Desi Deli happened. A logical outcome of her passion and talent.

Wild Thing

The eatery is ordinary, just a few tables, but the menu, excites you immediately. Her interpretation of Desi Deli, delicious Indiagenous food, is appealing. The menu clearly reflects the creativity of an Advertising professional. The choice of words is unmistakable

We decide to skip the Classic desi hot dogs- Amar, Akbar and Anthony denoting, vegetarian, chicken and Pork versions. . Globe trotting desi sound more interesting.  Sonorian, Venetian, Mexican, and yes, even The Goan Desi are some of the options. These come in Vegetarian, Chicken and Pork. Grilled pineapples in a tangy lemon sauce, with peppers et al catches our fancy. Lolita agrees to making a chicken version, as we are not keen on Pork.

Lamb burg

The burger, she suggests. The Tangy Chic Burger. Seems exciting enough. Our burger arrives. The presentation is neat, not extraordinary. A bite into it, gives us a taste of a succulent, juicy chicken pieces and oodles of tangy flavours. Delicious. The freshness of the ingredients is evident. We enjoy it thoroughly.The accompanying fries, more like the Bengali aloo bhaja made of finely shredded potatoes is delectable.

The Hot Dog pales in comparison. The Killer red sauce (so reminiscent of a Goan masala) and lemony sauce do not marry well. The flavours and textures are clearly mismatched. Maybe we should have tried something else? We decide to move on.

While the quality and creative twist in both these is unquestionable, the size of the burger and hot dog, given the price, is unappealing. These are not filling enough and at Rs 275- 300, these are far from pocket-friendly.

We skip the wraps or Tamales and settle for a Ghugni Souk with Mutton, a dish which has its origins in Bengal. Can I resist that? of course not. It has a Moroccon twist to it with the cous cous. I like that. I expect ghugni with couscous, but it turns out to be the opposite. The plate is full of cous cous with a a small helping of mutton infused ghugni in the centre. But the taste makes up for my disappointment, if any. Flavoursome and comforting. The cous cous complements the ghugni. A perfect example of creativity an imagination. Filling too. The house deli fresh salad along with it is crunchy and tingles our palate. This dish gets my vote.

The Usquebaugh blend ice tea that I am sipping is too mildly flavoured and watered down. The hint of tea is not enough even to tease my taste buds. Lolita has warned me of the delicate flavours, but being from Bengal myself, I am acquainted with those. However, this one does not fit the bill.

Screwpine Aam, Begum in crepe, Modak redux, Trucker tycoon. Yes, these are the interesting names of the desserts in the menu. Being a chocolate fanatic, Trucker Tycoon is quite obviously our choice. Tawa toast oozing with chocolate and mascarpone cheese, the dessert promises. I am taken by surprise. Two tiny pieces of toast with the filling. That too not generous, given the price. Reminiscent of what mothers make at home for kids with Nutella.

Lolita personally oversees every order and chats with her guests. Her central kitchen in Khar seems well managed and her staff here too is efficient.

Conceptually, Mumbai needs a Desi Deli with robust and unique hot dogs and thus, while Lolita’s efforts and creativity deserve a pat on the back, the pricing and portion sizes definitely need to be re-looked at to make it viable for customers.

Rating: 3/5

A Fruity Extravaganza: Cafe Mangii Summer Menu

What is summer without the king of fruits- Mangoes? One enjoys them in every form, as a fruit, in milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream and aam ras. And we never tire of them. And when you know that it has even been incorporated in the Summer Menu of one of your favourite Restaurants, you are just plain ecstatic.

Cafe Mangii, the Italian chain of Restaurants offers great food always. Throughout the year. Have been a huge fan of this place since years.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to check out the new menu. The service as always, was impeccable. Suhas the Khar outlet Manager, at his politest best and the staff attentive and alert.

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Seated on a  table overlooking the window, I took a look at the new menu. A bright, sunny mango stared at me, and bought a smile to my lips. Yes, it was the menu in the shape of a sweet and smiling mango, with shades et al. Kids would love it am sure.

Soups, salads, appetizers, mains and desserts, were all fruity. Yes a lot of summer fruits had been used in the menu. Plenty of mangoes too of course. But the menu was refreshing. Literally. Watermelon Gazpacho Shots, Watermelon Pizza (which is actually a salad), Pina colada chicken, Apricot glazed hen. Whew! Innovation at its best, I thought. It struck me though that there was no pizza on his menu.

Our Chilled Melon and fresh Alphonso with pistachio soup arrived. I loved the idea of crushed pistachio on the rim of the glass. Thought it was out of the ordinary. The soup was rejuvenating. Subtle flavours. The melon was more pronounced, but one could enjoy the mango too. Perked us up and we were ready for our salad and appetizer. Perhaps the rim should have had rock salt instead? I wondered.

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Mango & Calamari with cilantro aioli arrived. Great presentation again. Colourful and appetizing. The use of ripe and raw mango to give the sweet and tangy flavour was laudable. The calamari was steamed to perfection. Light and flavoursome salad. Our palates were teased sufficiently.

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The Crispy Chicken with Asparagus & Tomatoes was a pleasant surprise too. Light for an appetizer and the grilled chicken pieces melt in our mouth. The bacon bit were well fried and complimented the dish.

I could not help thinking how effectively and skilfully the chef had integrated fruits in each section to make the dishes light and flavourful.

We settled for Raviolo in Orange Paprika Butter sauce for our mains. Stuffed with Pine Nut, leeks & Fontina, Orange Paprika Butter Sauce, the sweetish taste made this dish unique, but we preferred the Salmon al Cartoccio. It was an absolute palate pleaser. Salmon fillet marinated in ginger soy and brown sugar served with roast almonds and snow peas, has subtle, but distinct flavours. The freshness of the salmon made it so delicious. It offered a medley of flavours to the palate. My vote goes to this one for sure.

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Satiated with such a perfect meal, dessert was plain greed. We succumbed. Mangoes with fresh cream we thought might be lighter than strawberry ravioli which was being recommended. Alas! we had erred. The presentation was wow. So much so that one felt guilty to dig  spoon into it. The mangoes were completely snowed under the cream, which was insipid. In fact the taste of the fruit was masked completely. Not sweet enough. A tad disappointing.

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I hurriedly ordered a Cappuccino to salvage my taste buds and that helped.

I walked out of Cafe Mangii pleased as punch after an enjoyable Sunday lunch. An eclectic summer menu. For once I was not complaining about the heat !