Tag Archives: monsoons

Want to Sizzle Your Taste buds?

Oh! the sound of a sizzler on the table, the aroma that  pervades the room and fills your nostrils, is irresistible in this weather. Right? I enjoy sizzlers immensely. And in Monsoons, even more. Something about that drama on the table,  is what appeals to me, apart from the taste of course.

Sizzlers are very popular and usually served sizzling hot and smoking in restaurants.  What is exciting is the fact that sizzlers can be from any cuisine- Indian, continental, Pan Asian.

Actually it is just any other meal, but being served on a sizzler plate is what makes it unique and give sit that wow factor. I love the way it is presented. The entire platter with colourful veggies, and the meat or sea food on a bed of rice or noodles or pasta, and of course the French fries. It  sure adds to my hunger.

Cafe Mangii in Mumbai serves some great sizzlers. Currently my favourites. In the good ol’ days there were Kobez and Yoko’s but sadly their standards have deteriorated. And they lack innovation too. Gondola’s in Bandra offered some great ones too in the 90’s.

 

The Harissa marinated Rawas steak at Cafe Mangii is a treat for the eyes and palate. A sensory overload actually.The Pot Roast Chicken with mushroom pepper sauce is another favourite.

In Oriental cuisine, I have a weakness for a Teriyaki prawns sizzler. Who wants chicken when there is sea food on offer?

 

For fish lovers, fish piri piri sizzler, a spicy Goan style dish is a treat. The balchao masala, a blend of garlic, clove and cinnamon, however, gives it a unique twist. I have tried this one in Goa and long for someone to replicate it in Mumbai. It certainly was all about innovation.

Tamari at Vivanta by Taj, Panjim serves great sizzlers. The Babrbeque of Cidade de Goa which opens around late October after the Monsoons is known for its ‘Sizzlers by the Sea.’ Chargril, Flat top, Teppenyaki, Tandoor are some of the forms used for sizzlers here. Chef Sunit Sharma, the Executive Chef, is a master of creativity.  Lamb, beef, pork, vegetables, sea food. Guests can choose from an array of these. The accompaniments are equally interesting. Garlic bread, vegetables, mashed or baked potatoes, Indian breads. I can never have enough of these.

Vegetarians generally relish paneer and mushroom sizzlers as other vegetables are already there. Here is where the real challenge lies for chefs to be creative. Cream Centre does a fantastic job here and their Paneer sizzler makes me miss no non-vegetarian sizzler. Been having this one for years and their quality is incomparable.

Sizzler at Cream Centre

I always feel it the sauces in a sizzler that make all the difference. Barbecue sauce does wonders. So does a pepper sauce. Adds that zing and spice to the dish. I have even tasted sizzlers with a schezwan sauce.

 

The iron plates used for plating sizzlers weigh 3.5 kg each. One has to heat them till they sizzle when sprinkled with water. They emanate heat for about 45 minutes, keeping your food hot while you eat it. I personally marvel the way a sizzler is served.

 

Oops! discussing sizzlers at length is making my mouth water now and I am definitely opting for one this afternoon for lunch. What’s more, the weather too is perfect.

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Monsoon Magic in Goa

Goa really never has to try hard to woo us. We are all in love with it, aren’t we?

Throughout the year, this destination, full of surprises, lures us, yet, monsoons are a time too, to head to Goa as well. Contrary to popular belief, the rains and the scenic beauty replete with the rivers joyfully overflowing with their rushing streams, the trees dancing to the tune of the winds and the fields a lush, verdant green carpet, is not all there is to look forward to. There are the traditional  festivals that acquaint you with tradition and also provide merriment galore.

 

These festivals are unique to Goa and each one has an interesting story behind it.It is truly worth discovering a Goa, that is beyond the ordinary, this Monsoons.

  • Sao Joao: Goa readies itself for the gala Sao Joao fest celebrated on June 24 in Siolim Goa. This monsoon feast has special significance in Christianity as it is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the firebrand prophet. The celebration of San Joao goes back nearly 150 years, when San Joao revelers from Chapora and Zhor villages of Anjuna, Badem in Assagao and Siolim would come up year after year in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao in Periera Vaddo, Siolim, to pay homage and take part in the traditional dali. The festivals takes place at the beginning of Monsoon season in Goa and people of all ages jumping into wells, streams and ponds.
  •  Ponsachem Fest : It is a Jackfruit festival called ‘Ponsachem Fest’ celebrated on the occasion of Sao Joao in Socorro village. Parish priest Fr Santana Carvalho says that the inspiration for the festival comes from Sao Joao itself. This is an occasion to savour Goa’s choicest jackfruits and the scrumptious items made from it. I am all for this festival as I love the versatile jackfruit and love to experiment with it in my kitchen

Sangodd

  •  Sangodd: The Feast of St. Peter, also known as Sangodd, is a monsoon-based celebration by Goa’s local fishing community. Their boats are tied together to form rafts, which serve as makeshift stages on June 29. On these stages are erected miniature models of chapels or churches.
  •  Chikalkalo : Come July and there is the Chikalkalo. People celebrate Chikalkalo, a traditional festival, at Marcel, Goa. It is an annual traditional celebration, in which people of Marcel village take part after the ‘Ashadi Ekadashi’.

Touxeachem Feast of Telaulim

  • Touxeachem Feast: The magnificent Church of St Anne also known as the Santana Church locally, is the scene of the very unusual feast every year on July 29. The Church located at Talaulim in Tiswadi taluka, is dedicated to St Anne. The couples come to the Church to seek the blessings of St Anne, who herself was blessed with a child after 40 years of barren life. They buy cucumbers from local vendors at the feast and offer them at the feet of St Ann and carry them home to eat. Touxeachem Fest (in Konkani) literally translates as the Cucumber Feast in English. Besides the huge number of devotees from all around Goa, a large number of newly married couples is in attendance.   

Patollio

  • Patolleanchem feast: It is a feast depicting a rich old Goan culture. This festival is organized on the feast of Our Lady of Assumption and Independence Day. Patollio ( a sweet made of jiggery and rice covered with a turmeric leaf) is prepared by the villagers  and is blessed by parish priest Fr Santana Carvalho  and is served to all and this is how the name Patolleanchem feast derives. I look forward to this feast to gorge on this delicacy which is painstakingly prepared by family members.
  • Bonderam is a local festival, celebrated on the third or fourth Saturday in the month of August, in the quaint island of Divar, away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. In remembrance of old territorial battles that took place on the island, mock skirmishes are re-enacted by boys and girls wielding fotashes (toy flags made with bamboo) and using berries for missiles.

Bonderam-Festival 2

 

I am certainly heading to Goa to witness some of these first hand and partake in the celebrations. Are you?

 

 

    

 

 

A Corn-y affair!

Who doesn’t enjoy a garam bhutta well roasted on a rainy day? with a lot of lime squeezed on it and salt to taste, it perks up your taste buds.  Many hotels offer bhutts during the rainy season in their menus so you can enjoy a hygienic version. But frankly  I love it in the rains from a roadside vendor. While roasted corn or steamed corn with masala and lime have gained popularity, corn is a versatile ingredient. There ‘s so much you can do with it in your kitchen.

My personal favourite of course is makai ki roti made from maize flour. Nothing to beat that with sarson ka saag in winter. More so beacuse am a Punjabi and have grown up eating that. A dollop of home made butter on the saag and voila! you are in heaven.

I once sampled a delicious corn shorba in Delhi at a friend’s place. Was truly unique. Thick and creamy. Extremely nutritious too. Ofocurse there are endless vegetarian preparations like corn palak, corn mushrooms, corn bharta that one can prepare. But corn is not limited to Indian cuisine only.

Spicy corn fritters are hugely popular in Thailand. Paired with an interesting dip, these make a tasty snack. Thai corn cakes are also an interesting option.

Chef Sudhir Pai of Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport has unleashed his creativity and has taken corn to the next level. Celebrating a corn festival till July 17,  with lip-smacking corn delicacies. European Polenta crusted chicken, Rajasthani Makai ka Soweta and much more at Sapatami, the all day dining restaurant, he ensures you will sample corn as never-before. So check it out.

 

 

 

Monsoon Mania : Dome, The Intercontinental, Marine Drive

Few places in Mumbai have the ability to transport you into another world and the Dome at The Intercontinental, Marine Drive is one of those. The rooftop restaurant is one of my favourite places and I can sit there for hours gazing at the Arabian Sea, especially so in the monsoons.  I basically love open dining places.

Monsoons truly are special at the Dome and this year is no exception.What’s more, the place has a new covering for the monsoons and with the weather controlled environment, it is bound to be the first on everyone’s list.  With Chef Paul Kinny at the helm, one knew that the new Barbecue Menu of Skewered Specialties, which he has crafted for the monsoons, will be delightful.

The stuffed Bhavnagiri Chili Tempura with four cheese and cumin yogurt dip, I thought was extraordinary and I would rate it as the numero uno on the new monsoon menu. Truly innovative. The Smoked Cottage Cheese Skewers  with Rose petal chutney and Cajun Mushroom & Water Chestnut Skewers  with a raw mango and grape dip were surprisingly a disappointment. The flavours in the paneer were too subtle, even to register on the palate and the mushrooms were a trifle bland.  Did not tickle my taste buds. Arabian Sea prawns skewers were delicious as the prawns were juicy and succulent. Of course, the “Monsoon bhutta” was perfect, lemony and tantalizing.  No scope to wrong with that anyway. Chilli Pineapple & Vegetable skewers with tomato and bell pepper coulis were unusual, as the contrast of flavours was apparent.

 

The dips were definitely interesting. The rose petal chutney was delectable, as was the home-made sweet tomato jam. Creativity at its best. There was something for every palate.

A flute of champagne, of course, Moet & Chandon, or a glass of martini or even some of Domes signature cocktails added to the experience.

“We have created this Monsoon Menu keeping in mind some of Mumbai’s favourite comfort foods of the season, and have added  a special touch by blending different textures & tastes in order to present a menu that is a mix of foods & ingredients associated with the rains, with new age flavours”, says Chef Paul Kinny.

The Dome has the distinction of being Voted Mumbai’s most Romantic Restaurant for the year 2005-2006 and has been voted one of the top 10 skybars in the world by many. I am not surprised. It is easily one of the best hot spots in Mumbai where one can unwind and relax amidst the sights and sounds of nature. Am going back again when it pours.

 

 

Fantastic feni

Oh! Monsoons make me think of Goa and Goa, feni. There’s nothing like enjoying a glass of feni in this weather at home or in a shack by the beach. Pure bliss.

The first time I ever tasted feni, many aeons ago, I simply gulped it. My host looked askance. And then began my ordeal. I was out of sorts for the entire next day.

Feni gets its name from the Konkani word, fena, which means “froth”.  This twice-distilled “unofficial state drink”, Feni can be made from two sources – sap of coconut palm (coconut feni) or juice of cashew apple (cashew or “kaju” feni).  And Goa has both these in abundance. Goans generally prefer Cashew feni over Coconut feni, at least those with a sophisticated taste. The longer the feni matures, the better it tastes. A three-year old Feni is considered good. The true test of a good feni is the colour of the flame. Yes, when burnt, the flame should be blue. That indicates its’ purity.

It is not as if only we Goans are fond of our feni. Otehrs swear by it too. Bartenders love it for its versatililty.It is heady. The aroma is distinct and you can sniff it a mile away. If used cleverly, great cocktails can be created. Kazkar Feni is typically used in cocktails.

As if drinking feni is not enough, we Goans use it in our coking too. Goans usually spike their Sorpotel (a Goan delicacy made of pork) with Feni and it is also used to  cure ham. It gives it a special flavour.

Be careful if you are having it fir the first time. Don’t go overboard like I did. Go slow. You may not even enjoy it. It gorws on you. But the best way to experience feni is at the roadside stalls that line the coastal highways when it is pouring. Ooh ! that experience is unparalleled.

I can go on and on about feni till the monsoons end, but don’t worry. I will not. Instead, I shall head to Goa soon to enjoy a glass. You too must try it when you’re in Goa next. No liquor in the world can give you the enjoyment, this rustic drink does. It has gone the world over already.