Tag Archives: newmenu

Dastarkhwan par excellence at Kangan

 

Indian food when dining out is usually my last choice, even though, I am passionate about the flavours of Indian food of every region. It is the greasy curries, oily biryanis, heavy kababs that scare me. Else, Indian food is food for my soul and I relish its flavours with pride. But home cooked food Indian food is what I hanker after.

A new menu tasting session with Chef Mohamed Danish, the new Chef de cuisine at Kangan, Westin Mumbai Garden City, sounded exciting and naturally the gourmand and writer in me wanted to explore it, so I set out, albeit with a bit of trepidation.

Chef Danish, I learnt, is a Lucknow born and bred Chef and naturally then, his culinary legacy is rich and varied. Of a pleasant demeanour, soft spoken and extremely confident of his food and skills, he demonstrated that in ample measure over a lunch experience that spanned three hours. No, it was not only about endless dishes, but conversations and stories around the food that made time simply fly and kept us engrossed.

Awadhi cuisine was what we were primarily being treated to, as those are the highlights of the new menu, which will of course contain other dishes too, to wow many a palate for dinner.

The culinary gems one can expect in an Awadhi meal are unmatched, especially delectable meat dishes including biryani, Nalli nihari, kakori kababs and more.

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Greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, Awadhi food bears similarities to the cuisines of Persia, Kashmir and Hyderabad. The richness of Awadhi cuisine also lies in liberal use of ingredients like mutton, paneer and rich spices including mace, cardamom and saffron.

Slow cooking with the finest ingredients, magically bound together, is the cooking style that is popular and Chef Danish strictly adhered to that.

Some of the major spices that go into the legendary spice mixes in this cuisine are – black and green cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, black peppercorns, cumin, nutmeg, mace and cloves. The rakabdars or gourmet cooks, had their spice mixes, which were a closely guarded secret. In the past, all these spices were added in proportions that were easy on the stomach.  Meat typically used to be marinated in curd and spices. This helped to soften the taste and texture, as well as remove any strong odours.

Innovation was constant in the kitchens, as Nawabs were very easily bored and thus demanded constant innovation from their cooks, who obliged. Chef Danish seems to have inherited this trait as he is inventive to the extent of experimenting without altering the classics.

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We started with the aromatic and creamy, Murg zafrani shorba, but sans any cream. Flavourful as it was slow-cooked, it boasted of spices and the caramelised onions imparted a unique flavour.

 

The Kangan tandoori chicken came next, with a lot of fanfare, being served to us fresh on our table. The aromas wafted through the air and made us hungrier, than we were. A bite into it and the smoky and well-balanced flavours, wowed my palate.

 

The refreshing lemon grass shikanji, I thought was an apt and interesting combination for this summer heat and refreshing, as nothing else.

The Kakori kabab was one of the best ever, as it was completely melt-in-the-mouth, well-spiced and yet, nothing overpowering.

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The dudhiya kabab made with grated paneer and dry spices, was for me, the piece de resistance. The melange of textures and flavours, so distinct, set it apart. I had never tasted anything like this before. Carnivores would gladly give up meat if this is served to them. The vegetarian variety on the new menu is abundant. The firdausi bharwaan aloo is equally a palate pleaser.

Each dish looked as good as it tasted, as Chef Danish displayed his mastery over his craft. The andaaz of balancing the spices in this cuisine is an art and intrinsic to the flavours and Chef Danish has got it right.

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For mains, we sampled the quintessential favourite – dal Kangan, murgh Begmati, nalli nihari, murg Jahaangiri raan, papad and sev ka paratha, multigrain roti and more. The fragrant gucchi pulao with stuffed morels was an unparalleled treat. For once, with a heavy heart, I skipped the biryani.

We rounded off our meal with the delectable shahi tukda, made with in-house saffron infused bread.

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In keeping with the Lucknawi tehzeeb and adab, none of the dishes had whole spices that one needed to remove. Apparently, that is how the Nawabs liked it – well-spiced food, prepared with a plethora of spices, but all removed after the cooking process before being served.

Having tried multiple dishes, albeit small tasting portions, I did not experience the discomfort and uneasiness I was anticipating. That itself was the acid test for me. Quite literally.

It was an enjoyable afternoon, where humne shauq farmaya, and we experienced lazeez food with lajawaab hospitality. Oops! I am beginning to sound Lucknawi is it? That is was this food and culture does to you, I guess.

If you remotely love Indian food, this new menu at Kangan, is a must try. Allow Chef Danish’s culinary treats to pamper your taste buds.

Rating : 4/5

 

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Delicious and worth devouring

Who can resist the quintessential golden brown, Belgian delicacy- waffles. Made with leavened batter or dough, freshly made waffles with myriad toppings are any gourmands dream come true. And I am no exception. While I do enjoy the savoury waffles that have made their way into restaurant menus, I still prefer the original sweet ones, I must confess.

A popular breakfast item, I love to indulge myself every now and then when I am in the mood to pile on calories or be sure I can burn them off. Several places in Mumbai apart from five star hotels serve waffles but few, offer the real ones.

Coffee by Di Bella, is one such chain which offers delectable, good quality ones.

With new additions to their waffle menu, naturally, a visit was in order. So, this morning, on a Sunday, I decided to savour some waffles. After all waffles are the perfect weekend treat.

As always, the coffee, my favourite cappucino that I began with was creamy, strong and piping hot. The banana salted caramel crunch waffle was a treat for the eyes. It lived upto its promise as described on the menu. The caramel crusted banana slices offered the right crunch and flavour to the waffles served with fresh cream and a dollop of ice cream. The waffles were firm yet, soft, fluffy and each bite was an explosion of palate-pleasing flavours.

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Chocolate lovers or kids are going to love the varied offerings with chocolate- The ultimate chocolate explosion waffle, Nutella oreo crunch waffle and the dark chocolate sundae waffle. Of course others can opt for the Churro rush waffle.

The quality of ingredients used is of good quality and the portions generous. Priced at rs 350, this waffle may seem steep at a glance, but once you have relished it, you realize it is your money’s worth.

So the next time you are craving for your waffle fix, head straight to any of the Coffee by Di Bella outlets in Mumbai and indulge in the best selection. Trust me, you will never be disappointed.

Rating : 4/5

 

Of Wines and Italian Home flavours

It has been my week of savouring Italian food. A strange co-incidence, but one, I am not complaining about. Anything for the love of Italian cuisine.

Olio, at Novotel Juhu, Mumbai, is a restaurant shrouded in a bit of a mystery. Not too many people know about this wonderful restaurant, with a chic ambience and an open kitchen. I have been fortunate to have visited this twice before in the last 5 years or so. Naturally then, a dinner at Olio, with an all-new menu under the aegis of Executive Chef Kailash Gundupalli, sounded like an interesting prospect.

The warmth and hospitality extended by the hotel team was overwhelming. The General Manager Manish Dayya, personally welcomed all guests.

The long table for our dinner was beautifully laid out. Flawless. Each course was to be  paired with Reveilo wines and the wine maker Andrea was present there himself.

The amuse bouche arrived. The baked brie with a crust, was just the perfect way to tantalize one’s taste buds. As one bit into the crust, soft, gooey brie enveloped the taste buds and rendered one speechless.

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Barely recovering from the onslaught of cheese on my palate, and the pickled watermelon and arugula salad took me by surprise. The water melon was handled with precision and the pickled flavours  were unique. The smattering of goat cheese, focaccia chips and the apple vinaigrette imparted the final touch to this salad replete with freshness and crunch. And yes, a hint of tangy flavours too.

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We were definitely off to a great start. The grillo and chardonnay paired with these opened our palate and with their citrusy and fruity flavours, were refreshing all the way.

The spinach and ricotta ravioli had a filling which was well-made, the outer covering of the dumpling, made with pasta dough seemed a tad tough and under cooked. The chewy texture robbed me of the outstanding experience I was expecting, considering the tomato basil sauce was light and flavoursome.

An eternal optimist, I looked forward to my risotto, a dish I have an immense weakness for. But alas! this too did not pass the test. It was a mushy mass of sticky rice. A spoonful and I knew it was half-cooked. Perhaps it was prepared in stages, which proved to be its undoing. The stock had got absorbed too soon and the arborio rice grains were not cooked to perfection. Of course the quality of the ingredients used boasted of freshness and shone all through. The black truffle essence too could have been a bit more.

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Perhaps I had made the wrong choices. There was Chicken d’ avolo – roast chicken preparation and a red snapper dish to choose from as well and I saw others relish those. Fortunately, the food  here is light, home-style and causes no discomfort with a cheese and cream overload, as is sometimes the case with what is passed off as Italian food.

Grilled salmon – sautéed Asparagus, garlic mash potato and lobster cream sauce

Just when I was beginning to let my despondent taste buds take over and feel sorry for themselves, the desserts- tiramisu and flour less chocolate cake, came along, artistically presented and literally “picked me up.” The flavors were bang on as were the textures. I was elated once again. A sip of the late harvest Chenin Blanc dessert wine and I was grateful to the hosts for a lovely evening.

Flour less chocolate cake – olio signature gluten free dessert with vanilla ice cream

The service through out the evening struck me as alert and efficient and the chefs passionate about their craft.

The new menu  certainly looks promising with appetizers ranging from Bruschetta, Olio De Caesare, Cozze Al Forno to Capsesante, while the mains feature avant-garde additions like Linguine Pescatora, open-face Lasagna, Angello Al Balsamico, all-time classic pizzas, and much more.

The simple home style cooking techniques, fresh sauces and condiments are going to make all the difference, along with the chef’s expertise and skills.

Add to that the fact that Olio exudes a kind of bonhomie and cheer and is not a staid, stiff-upper lip kind of dining place.

Saluti and Buon Appetito all:)

 

Aroma, Art and An Appetizing Meal at Shiro

I am a little partial to Pan Asian cuisine, I must confess. After Indian ghar ka khaana aka home cooked food, it is my favourite cuisine. The sheer variety, usage of spices, unusual flavours, cooking methods, appeal to me and make we want to eat more of it.

The new menu at Shiro, unarguably, one of the finest places for Pan Asian cuisine in Mumbai, beckoned me. I was informed that some of the classics and old favourites had been retained but almost 40% of the menu was new inclusions. That sounded exciting.

Shiro’s decor and interiors always have a calming effect on me. Something to do with the Zen ambience, I guess.

Our Sushi and Maki rolls arrived. Aesthetically presented as ever. The crispy duck maki rolls got my instant vote. The texture was unique, as were the flavours.

Crispy duck maki

The Chicken summer rolls from Vietnam are my all time favourites and Shiro offers the best ones. The shredded chicken, herbs, peanut hoisin sauce filled in rice paper rolls are light and mouth-watering. It is the simplicity in the flavours which sets them apart.

The Chilean seabass with lime reduction tantalized my palate. The light but distinct flavours, were comforting. The fish was fresh and I loved the way the texture was kept intact. Absolutely melt in the mouth. The Miso black cod was delightful. But the sweet potato mash served alongside got brownie points instantly.

With each dish, the degree of innovation in the new menu struck me as commendable. The Chefs had put in a lot of thought.

Chilean seabass with chilli lime reduction

The skewers were equally a treat. Loved the subtle Thai flavours. These live grills are a new inclusion and a welcome addition to the menu, I can assure you.

Quality ingredients, palate tingling flavours and a plethora of choices, characterize the new Shiro menu.

Our main course was served. Chicken Massaman curry, garlic fried rice, Yaki udon noodles, prawns and assorted mushrooms with spicy thai herb sauce. We were spoilt for choice.

The use of garam masala in the Massaman curry fascinated me. A striking similarity to Indian cuisine, I thought. And yet the masalas were not overpowering. The medley of mushrooms was exotic to say the least and paired well with the noodles and rice. Aromatic all the way.A perfect recommendation by the Chef. I was satiated and yet, craving for more.

Vegetarians need not despair. Plenty of exciting options for them too in the new carefully planned menu.

Massaman curry with mix vegetables

It was dessert time. The chocolate and sour cherry dome bowled my taste buds completely. A work of art on plate it was.  It literally exploded in my mouth unleashing a burst of chocolate and sour cherry.It was an outstanding combination. Undoubtedly my favourite dessert at Shiro, hereon.

Chocolate cherry bomb

It was one of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time. Impeccable service, warm hospitality and an absolutely sublime dining experience.

Rating: 4.5/5

Delectable Global Flavours & More…….

Villa 69 at Juhu Circle, has always intrigued me, but somehow I have never stepped in. The new menu beckoned me and I finally experienced the place. Chef Dev Singh Negi has launched a new South East Asian & Mediterranean menu, incorporating seasonal flavours. That was reason enough for me to pay a visit.

The pristine white plush interiors of the Cafe appealed to me at first sight.  The place spread lavishly over several thousand sq ft. is a treat for the eyes. The fine dining area with a dance floor is chic and sophisticated. There is also an outdoor seating area. It is obviously a popular place with the younger crowd.

With a wide variety of options to choose from and indulge, Villa 69 promises to treat your taste buds with fascinating flavours. The new menu was fairly exhaustive with soups, starters, salads, pizza, pastas, main course and desserts. And plenty of vegetarian options. The drinks menu was an exercise in choices, but we decided to skip it altogether.

Our sea food laksa soup was eclectic. The coconut milk was subtle, compared to several places where it overpowers the flavours of the sea food and other spices. The hallmark of a good chef, I thought immediately. Generous amount of sea food laced the soup replete with spices et al. Heart- warming and flavourful. We had got on to a good start.

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Harissa fish with hummus came next. I am not a great fan of basa fish so thought I will not enjoy it, but was wrong. The chef had astutely pepped up the otherwise bland fish with spices and flavourings. The onion rings offered the right amount of crunch. It ignited our taste buds and we looked forward to our main course.

Chef Dev Singh Negi, I noticed, uses herbs like Tahina in several dishes. He has been inspired by global cuisines and has amalgamated several dishes in his new menu. Balinese dishes like Ayam Pelalah, a Balinese BBQ chicken, Aubergine Pate, Tahina Chicken Skewers, Cottage Cheese Piccata, were other items on the menu as starters. The presentation of all dishes was like poetry on plate. Chef Negi definitely has an eye for details.

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The Mushroom Pepper chicken in the main course was delectable and sumptuous. A value for money meal with a chicken breast, veggies on a bed of mashed potatoes and an interesting sauce. The Pan Fried noodles in a light soya sauce, that I sampled were equally a treat. Lots of chicken pieces and a fair amount of veggies too. The noodles were just meant for my taste buds. No MSG or artificial flavours. Perfect.

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We rounded off a wonderful meal with a jar dessert – a choco molten cake. Gooey and rich, it transported us to heaven. There was a red velvet one too which we skipped.

The service is attentive and prompt, the ambience relaxing with foot-tapping music and Chef Negi’s menu, the raison d’etre to visit Villa 69. I am so glad I did. It was definitely an unforgettable dining experience. No run- of- the- mill stuff here.

 

Tantalizingly Tandoori! MUCB’s new menu

Was quite intrigued when I heard that Manchester United Café Bar has reinvented their popular menu with the addition of several mouth-watering dishes and a new appearance. That apart, what really caught my fancy was that they had introduced a whole new tandoor Indian menu currently at the Malad outlet only. Wow! That was up my sleeve.

The foodie in me could not resist trying it out so I decided to embark upon yet another culinary journey. The tandoor menu includes a delicious spread of exquisite Kebabs.  We decided to sample the platter with a variety of kebabs. Murg Multani, fish ajwain tikka, mutton seekh kebab, chicken tikka, it had them all. Chicken kalimiri and tikka were good but the winner was clearly the mutton seekh. The fish ajwain tikka was acutely disappointing as the texture of the fish was rubbery and tough. The strong ajwain aroma and flavour that ought to be there, was missing. Most of the kebabs were a tad wettish, giving a feeling of being semi -cooked and the crisp, robust flavours normally present in a kebab were absent. Other options on the menu are Paneer Ale’, ‘Dhingri Bhara Kebab’, ‘Galauti Kebab’ and many more.

As always, Minal, the young lady serving us, was impeccable. Alert , well-informed and helpful. Trusting her, we let  her decide our mocktails and she did a great job. The kiwi n khus mocktail was extremely refreshing.

The Thai curry (Red)  and steamed rice in the main course was delicious, with the typical aromatic Oriental flavours. I opted for Goan prawns curry and rice. Well- presented, the dish was tasty but nothing remotely close to the authentic Goan curry. It was more like a Chettinad/ Kerala style prawns curry replete with curry patta and red chillies. Also the gravy was too thick and had less of coconut in it. But palate- tickling nevertheless. I throughly enjoyed it as it was in a new avatar, quite different from what we Goans, make at home.

We were recommended the Orange cheesecake, for dessert. It simply melt in our mouth and took me by complete surprise, considering I am not a great fan of the orange flavour. Pizzokie, a pizza in choco chip cookie dough with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce is another must-try.

The new main menu too has some great offerings, but we decided to skip that in favour of the tandoor menu.

An enjoyable afternoon. Great service, lovely ambience but the Indian food can definitely be better. But yes, one knows, MUCB is not supposed to be an Indian speciality restaurant. So just enjoy!