Tag Archives: palate

Tea Tales & Winter food

Winters are somehow all about indulgence. Given the weather when the temperature drops, one can getaway by giving in to one’s guilty pleasures. More calories are needed to generate body heat, we are told, so we all gladly embark upon that task. Sadly, Mumbai does not gift us real winters, yet, we unabashedly gorge on some winter delicacies.

Another thing which is synonymous for everyone with winters, is a hot brew-tea or coffee. I love my tea and  when a winter menu is about tea and food, naturally I am ecstatic.

Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House (TMTH) has curated a new Winter Menu, using the most exotic and fresh produce of the season.  TMTH has handpicked season’s popular ingredients and created an interplay of flavours to intrigue the diner’s taste buds.

Irresistible this sounded, so I set about to explore it one evening.

As I settled in, I discovered each item on the cleverly crafted menu, was aptly complemented by one of their signature tea blends.

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The falafel chaat arrived on the table and was paired with  a pink guava and kaffir lime tea. The tangy chaat with palate-teasing flavours, was delightful. After a sip of the light tea, the flavours came alive with a vengeance. I was off to a good start.

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Next was the salad with paneer and the tea to go along, was a delicate Oriental Jasmine and rose. A unique blend of the East and West- a romantic tea, which uplifts your mood instantly. It did just that. It perked my taste buds and I found myself enjoying the hearty and crunchy salad even more.

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Teas being paired with every course, I thought was an exciting thing to do in order to enhance the dining experience. And it really worked wonders.

Risotto infused with Sambar was served next but the watered down version did not entice me enough. The silver needle and berries tea paired with it though, took me by surprise. Fruity and flavourful, it was comforting all the way and yet, added zest to my palate with its intoxicating flavours. Who needs wine with teas like this around?

The Idly Crust with Pomfret was the piece de resistance. Fresh fluffy soft fish with a delectable crust was a treat for the taste buds.

What can I say about the matcha semifreddo. It bore ample testimony to Chef’s mastery over his craft. The matcha tea flavours, lend themselves seamlessly to this dessert and in fact enhanced the taste. Layers of Matcha cream and cake covered with grilled almond slivers and served with chocolate sauce. Truly decadent. Paired with the robust mocha tea this course was truly memorable. Assam chai with a rich coffee cream crown and finished with cracked roasted coffee beans. Whew! I had tasted nothing like this ever before.

There is Chai cheese cake tart too, for dessert lovers, which I have to head back to try.

This menu is truly innovative and offers something for every palate. A special treat for the Vegans is using the winter staple Ragi in a contemporary Vegetable Quiche. Vegetarians can relish the Multigrain Hari Matar Burger, while carnivores will enjoy the Baked Irani Lamb Kheema – Aubergine parceled shells baked with lamb kheema inspired by Dhansak flavor and glazed with Béchamel sauce, among others.

I left the place with a smile as the manner in which teas had been paired with food,  especially the fish course was a true revelation. And I had sampled the very best of teas and food. It does not get any better than this. Winters had set in for me this evening, and I was not complaining.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh! Simply Unpretentious

New format restaurants and eateries always excite me and when it’s from deGustibus hospitality, (of Indigo and Indigo Deli fame) the expectations are even more. Casual, self-service, fun, were the words I had in mind as I entered this new eatery for a sneak preview one afternoon. But lo behold! D:oh in Kamla Mills, Lower Parel, was all this and more.

The cheerful ambience enveloped me immediately as did the different hues of blue and lime green along with the other quirky decor elements. Even though I may not be a 25-something, I almost felt I belonged here, merely because this place was so unpretentious and embodied my personality. The lack of pretense permeated in the menu too as the offerings on the menu, I noticed were comfort food, some of which I have grown up on, others vaguely familiar but sans any culinary snobbery, nonetheless.

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One can actually enter and help oneself to a tray and select one’s sandwiches, juices et al before you pour yourself a beer from the draught taps and then head to the counter to order some hot food and of course pay of it.

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My food arrived. It delivered its promise of being simple and straightforward and yes, global. I sampled an old-fashioned rustic chicken burger where the patty was fried but juicy and moist. Luscious flavours all the way. The  hotter wicked fries were medium spicy (one can have even spicier ones)  and they are called hottest or the hot ones, which are mild. Slathered with cheese sauce these were pure sin, but I was not complaining.

The desi feeling came and how, as I bit into the dal wada dahi chaat with oodles of dahi or curd, chutneys, spices but all in the right proportion, generally a rare occurrence. I was satiated and the flavours transported me to Delhi, known for its lip-smacking chaats.

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The crispy sririacha chicken tenders were equally comforting and one could unmindfully polish off a plate whole chatting with a friend.

Short Eats, Big Bowls, Breakfast, Burgers and Desserts. This no-fuss menu boasts of it all. It truly caters to a universal palate.The mocktails, smoothies, shakes and coffees selection is extensive and delightful.

The seating is comfortable and combines elements of fun (you can actually sit on a swing) with a variety of options. The crockery too in enamel is simple yet, elegant.

While there are no frills in the service and the food is seemingly uncomplicated, there is no compromise on the quality. As always, the best of ingredients of topmost quality.

Executive Chef JD Mukherjee and his team create a unique dining experience yet again and although it is a far departure from Indigo and Indigo Delis(intentionally of course) it is an unparalleled experience, which gourmands in Mumbai are going to lap up and enjoy.

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A quick breakfast, a hassle-free lunch, a leisurely rendezvous with friends or family, this place offers an atmosphere conducive to all of these.

Gen Y is going to love this place. Never mind if I am not one of them, I love it too!

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

Very English, Very Desi

Be desi, buy desi. We, Indians, may not really be following this diktat, especially when it comes to desserts, nowadays, as unfortunately, Indian sweets like ladoos, gulab jamuns., pedas et al don’t really find favour with the younger generation, who prefer pastries, cheesecakes etc. But Ranveer Brar, along with the Dakalia family of Gangour Sweets and snacks,  Juhu are going to change that.

With English Vinglish, India’s first desi patisserie, where desi or Indian sweets are served with Western influences, Indian sweets will be fashionable once again.

Using molecular gastronomy, Chef Ranveer Brar presents the best of regional desserts in unique western ways. Fresh mango yogurt parfait with crunchy balushai sticks and smoked cardamom honey lie cheek by jowl with Doodha tartlet, with whipped kesar pista dark chocolate ganache and reduced sweetened balsamic vinegar.

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There is something for every palate in this cute little store. And I was no exception. The Sweet Potato & Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake got my instant vote, even though it did sound like a strange combination at first. The textures meshed well perfectly and the flavours too complimented each other. No where, was the sweet potato an aberration. On the contrary it lent itself well to the dessert.

The Amrakhand cheese cake unfortunately did not entice my palate. I found it cloyingly sweet and my mouth was filled with the overtly creamy dessert.

Amrakhand cheese cake

 

Pineapple halwa and hazelnut creme tart, I thought was an interesting combination. The halwa was firmly ensconced in the tart and laced my palate with a myriad textures.

Other creations include the Double chocolate pudding with khada masala strawberry compote and whipped shrikhand; and the Kheer khadam truffles with five-spiced ganache and toasted caramelized kaddu ke beej.

The fare on offer is truly avant garde and unique, something, one typically expects of a chef of Ranveer Brar’s calibre. Add to that Gangour Sweets’ years of expertise. The result is bound to be wow.

Chef Ranveer says,  “The sweet tooth  of every Indian defines and dictates every relevant moment of our lives. This sweetness just changes form and style with time. What stays is the perennial combination of spices and sweet and the passion for mithai. It’s this perennial love that we try and bring you through English Vinglish – A refined stylised balance between traditional Indian sweets and the modern patisserie is what we strive to achieve here.”

And there are not desserts only, that one can dig into at English Vinglish. Breads, soft-centered chocolates and bars, Indo-traditional Baklawas and fillet-stuffed dates, savoury delights, are also on offer.

I loved the Makai – dhaniya and flaxseed bread, which I relished for breakfast next morning. It was moist and flavourful. Sweet Badam Brioche Loaf, Mini Foccacia, Curried Masala Baguette, are some of the other interesting ones.

English Vinglish proved to be a journey of rediscovering Indian desserts the western way. Definitely, one I was not really acquainted with, but happy to have embarked upon.

 

My Top Ten for 2015

It is next to impossible to pick my Top Ten favourite dishes  in Mumbai for 2015. Most dishes that I have sampled this year, were delectable, some I tasted for the first time, others, my all time favourites. But these ten dishes took my taste buds by storm and struck me as unusual and unique, in texture, flavours, presentation and creativity. Hence, these find a place here………

1.The sliced chicken with stone ground mustard at Ming Yang, Taj Lands End, Mumbai was a memorable dish. The subtle yet, distinct flavours of this dish haunt my taste buds even now. An absolute winner!

2.The authentic Andhra thali at Gongurra, Juhu, with a variety of fiery and flavourful dishes, all cooked home style wowed me instantly.

Gonguura Special Thali

3.The Jackfruit Biryani at Monkey Bar, Bandra, is one of the best I have ever had.  The texture and unique flavours, of this well made biryani, struck me as outstanding. Sadly it is currently off the menu as Jackfruit is not in season, but I hope it is back.

4. The Murg Musallam biryani at Times of Biryani, Andheri West, is the best thing to happen to the gourmand in me this year. Fragrant, nouvelle, value for money, delicious. Irresistible, the biryanis at this place are. Difficult to choose one fav, but this one scores a wee bit over others.

Murg Masallam Biryani- Times of Biryani

5.Sambal Bajak, a red fragrant curry at 38 Bangkok Street, a vegetarian, Pan Asian cuisine restaurant, was one of the nicest curries I tasted this year. And that too vegetarian!

6.Being a dessert person, I enjoy most desserts, but this one was the piece de resistance. Chocolate and sour cherry dome at Shiro, Worli was mastery at its best. Rich, sinful and decadent, it was beautifully presented and an amalgamation of a myriad textures and flavours.

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7.Kasundi Mustard Basa with red rice risotto at Le Pain Quotidien was a fine example of Indian flavours, meshed perfectly in global cuisine. The artisanal flavours of this fish, rendered me speechless.

8.Baked Parmesan polenta with chipotle fig relish at Asado, The Cocktail street, Bandra was a unique discovery my taste buds made in 2015.

9.Litti Chokha, a winter favourite from Bihar  at the newly opened 29, a regional Indian cuisine restaurant, was a gastronomic delight. The stuffed bread made from pulses and cereals, with the crunchy baigan bharta, with a distinct tangy and smoky flavour, was a memorable experience.

10.What can I say about the aromatic Mushroom Hot pot rice at Ruka, Juhu, the newest entrant in Juhu? A dish, one can never tire of. Perhaps I saved the best for the last?

So let us see what 2016 has in store for my gourmet escapades. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous 2016. Eat well, enjoy, stay healthy and fit.

 

Sensory deprivation and exploration…..with Sergi Arola

Blind-Tasting always sounds exciting. A combination of sensory deprivation and exploration, it heightens  all your senses and makes you experience food better. And that is exactly what Two Michelin Star Chef Sergi Arola believes in. “You do not taste food, you experience it.” The dinner at Arola, JW Marriott, Mumbai  thus seemed like something I was going to enjoy.

A few sips if our wine and were blindfolded. With baited breath we waited for our very first course. There was some anxiety and trepidation too. We were gently directed to our plates. The aroma of potatoes was distinct and filled my nostrils. Patatas bravas it turned out to be. One of Arola’s signature dish. Delicious. It simply melt in the mouth. Trust me, it tasted even better today with our eyes closed. We were obviously concentrating more on the flavours.

Patatas Bravas

The second course seemed more confusing. Prawns, fish, were some of the wild guesses that were made. Eyes opened and we were embarrassed to discover Chicken wings with honey, soy sauce and sesame seeds. The vegetarians were savouring green asparagus.

An intimate tour of the flavour palate is what we had embarked upon and one realises how important it is to concentrate on what one is eating.

The dessert arrived. It was so tasty that I almost forgot, I was supposed to guess what it was and simply walloped most of it. The orange flavour was evident as was the cream. At first bite though, I must confess, I mistook it for mascarpone cheese. It was Crema Catalan, the popular dessert from Arola.

Crema Catalan

The food this evening tantalized our taste buds with flavours and textures like never  before. Sergi Arola painstakingly explained why food tastes that way it does and makes us feel the way we do.

The beautiful amalgamation of good food, aroma and music, guided by the gourmet magician Chef Sergi Arola, made it a memorable and fun evening. I was glad I made the effort to attend it.