Tag Archives: paneer

Fresh and Flavoursome

A huge fan of freshly cooked food, I like no short cuts and especially no packet, packaged and processed for me, as far as I can help it. Of course once in a while we all get lazy and give in but this is the exception in my home rather than the rule.

Thus, I was reluctant to try the range of products from Freshway Foods, a Vadodara based company, when a friend urged me too.

The packets arrived and looked attractive and the instructions easy to follow. In fact utterly simple.

Their unique freeze-dry technology, which is accepted worldwide as the best food preservation process, fascinated me. The colour, flavours and freshness of the food is preserved without affecting its nutritional value.

What’s more, their food is preservative free, which ensures it is as healthy as home-cooked food.

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The Palak Paneer, which I tried first, blew me off completely. The palak was delicious and the paneer soft. It was well-spiced, was bursting with fresh flavours and I could not believe it had been created in minutes out of a packet merely by adding boiling water.

The daal makhani was equally a surprise. A laborious dal, otherwise to prepare, this one was tasty all the way and ready in minutes.  The consistency was right and the flavours reminiscent of home food.

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From pulao kadhi to paneer bhurji and Veg Biryani to Moong Dal sheera, Freshway Foods offers them all. A complete vegetarian range, they have a lot of Gujarati delicacies apart from the universal favourites from all over India.

Freshway products pass through stringent quality standards and microbial tests at every stage of freeze-drying. Their strict hygiene and housekeeping regime ensures that every product is packaged with utmost hygiene and minimal wastage, keeping intact its nutritional values. That is perhaps what sets them apart.

Reasonably priced, the portions are decent too. This is the perfect solution for days when one is feeling lazy and does not want to cook and yet not order an expensive and oily takeaway. Bachelors, single working professionals and harried women can make use of their wide range.

One can order online and the packets get delivered to your doorstep.

I have actually heaved a sigh of relief now that there is a healthy food solution at hand, in terms of Freshway ready-to-eat meals. At last a brand that lives up to its promise of delivering fresh food.

 

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Hop along for some Hoppers

Sri Lanka’s bowl shaped pancake- light, fluffy and delicious, is my new favourite. Quite similar to appams, hoppers are made with naturally fermented rice flour. They can be eaten sweet or savoury. A staple found primarily on every table in a Sri Lankan home.Of course, I first sampled it years ago when I went to Sri Lanka, and several time later at food festivals or five star hotels, but the novelty has not worn off. In fact, I am in love with these with renewed vigour. I prefer savoury ones any day.

Naturally then, I hopped over to Madeira and Mime, a new restaurant (opened 5 months ago) in Powai to sample some great hoppers. Known for their great food and drinks, I was sure I would get good ones here.And right I was!

The doughy centre and crisp edges with a filling in the centre, are enticing. And that’s exactly what was served to me here, one Hopper with chicken sukka and the other paneer makhani. There was a mutton version too, which I decided to skip.

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The highlight for me was the accompanying coconut pickle- spicy, well seasoned and with a great bite to it.

The hoppers were well-made, just the way they should be and the generous chicken sukka with an egg at the base made it even more delicious.The flavours of the chicken were lip-smacking and comforting. No spice was over powering and the pieces of chicken were succulent and well-meshed with the gravy. One could just roll it and bite into it effortlessly. The paneer makhani one which is obviously a twist in terms of the filling, was not so exciting, in comparison, but tasty nevertheless.

Made of rice flour and coconut milk, hopppers are light and pair well with just about anything. The slight sour flavour and a medley of textures is what sets these apart. Made in a special pan or appachatti, these are quite easy to make as well and quick too, but yes require a special skill.

Madeira and Mime is every bit your neighborhood bar offering unique drinks and delectable food along with great service by their always-smiling staff. I too left the palce smiling after having savoured palate-pleasing hoppers.

Nawaabon Ke Kebab

Mostly Grills, the rooftop barbecue restaurant at The Orchid, Mumbai, has always been one of my fav dining places in the city, thanks to the great food and spectacular view.

I was delighted to go there yet again, albeit after a long gap. And there was ample reason too, as they were hosting the biggest kebab trail.

Chef Shadaab from Lucknow, has curated an interesting menu, to tantalize the taste buds of diners with an array of eclectic kebabs,from the lands of erstwhile nawabs – Awadh (Lucknow), Nizams and other kingdoms, that are famous for their kebabs.

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The place had been transformed completely into a haven for diners, complete with ghazals, artifacts and decor representative of the Nawabi lifestyle. The era had been beautifully recreated.

The melt in the mouth galouti kebab, arrived first. My all time favorite kebab. It did not disappoint me. The texture was perfect and the flavours, authentic. The Kakori kebab, I thought, might pale in comparison, but Chef Shadaab, did not let me down here too. The mince boasted of  great textures and robust flavours, replete with spices, so characteristic of this kebab.

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The accompanying chutneys were unique too. I particularly found the banana and tamarind one to be palate-tickling.

I was blown away with the shinghara atta and corn tikki. Yes, water chestnut flour had been dexterously paired with corn to make a delectable tikki.

The highlight of the dinner was the live trolley where chef  was making kebabs and other barbecue items live in front of  us. Oh! What a spectacle that was. I could not help, but admire the manner in which the kebabs were being adroitly flambeed by chef.

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The Mawa and dry fruit sheekh was a delight for the palate, where the sweetness of dry fruits was cleverly balanced with the meat. Chef Shadaab is truly a master of his craft.

The piece de resistance was the Tatari champ. Kid lamb chops marinated overnight with Andhra chili, cumin, cloves and pure ghee cooked in tandoor. An absolute treat for carnivores. Gourmets can also feast on Maheen Samak tikka (Bekti fish marinated with ginger garlic and aromatic herbs slow cooked live)

Chef Shadaab who hails from Alamganj, Lucknow  had a plethora of vegetarian offerings too, which according to him, the Royals feasted upon.

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In the vegetarian section, my vote went to the Meve mave ki khaas sheekh (Cottage cheese treated with condensed milk , saffron and nuts and char grilled live. Being a lover of potatoes, I relished the Tandoor Bharwan Lahori Aloo  too, where the potatoes were scooped and stuffed with spices, raisins and almonds.

The chef has procured the spices and other condiments from various places to ensure the authentic taste.

The food struck me as unique, with authenticity being  showcased in each dish. The ingredients used, were of good quality and completely fresh.

What do I say about the biryanis, niharis, salans and special Indian breads, which were on offer. Sheermal, Baqarkhani, Khamiri roti , laccha paratha, lasooni naan were delightfully paired with lip-smacking gravies and salans.

Each dish was authentic and well-prepared, using the slow cooking methods of that region and as per the demands of that cuisine. Some of the non vegetarian main course dishes are Shahi Nihari (Lamb shanks simmered on low heat cooked overnight served with Khamera naan), Degi Gosht (Baby lamb cooked with coconut, cumin and tamarind flavour gravy), Achari jhinga (Tiger prawns stir fried in Hyderabadi pickled spice, finished with tamarind pulp), Pudina machli ka salan (Pomfret cooked with onion, tomato, and mint gravy).

The food was flavourful, but yes, rich and heavy. But I guess once in a while, with spread like this, one can do with a bit of indulgence.

As in a royal repast, I finished my meal with Sewiyan ka Muzaffar (Vermicelli cooked win condensed milk topped with nuts).

There were other options too, but of course I skipped those. Sheer kurma, Khubani ka meetha, Shahi Tukda, Shahi Falooda. A paan counter too is part of the festival, for those who want to digest their food.

With Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh’s ghazals fading away in the background, I made my way out of Mostly Grills, after a memorable Kebab Trail and hospitality, fit for the nawabs.

On till April 17, 2016 only for dinner, don’t miss this if Kebabs are what appeases your taste buds.

Get Crack(l)ing this Monsoon

I can somehow never resist sizzlers. Something about that sizzling noise in the monsoons along with the aroma, makes me long for sizzlers.

Couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered that Cafe Mangii was hosting a Sizzlers Festival till the end of the month. I made my way to the Khar outlet, one that I have never visited before. Like all other Cafe Mangii outlets in Mumbai, it is elegance and informality personified. The relaxing ambience immediately beckons you.

The sizzlers menu set my taste buds tingling. Each one sounded more exotic than the other. What’s more! Each sizzler comes with traditional flavors and spices served with exotic veggies.

I was confused. But since I have a soft corner for sea food, I opted for the Harissa marinated Rawas steak. It was a treat for the eyes too with the colourful bell peppers, cheese fondue and of course the rawas steak and herbed risotto. My colleague tried the Pot Roast Chicken with mushroom pepper sauce and assured me it was lip-smacking.

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The rawas was grilled to perfection and simply melt in my mouth. The cheese fondue complimented it and the veggies added the right element of crunch.  There was an interesting amalgamation of flavours and textures. It was extremely filling and complete value-for money.  The mushroom sauce my friend said was a total palate pleaser.

Vegetarians can enjoy the perfectly grilled cottage cheese & pepper steak or dig into the corn, potato & jalapeno steak served with basil pesto sauce. Lamb Leg with rosemary and Grilled Pork Chops with traditional barbeque sauce is another hot favourite among meat lovers.

We skipped the Pizookie, a feisty dessert, but dessert lovers should try it. So while it rains outside, head to a Cafe Mangii outlet near you to have that incredible sizzling experience. I mean, for your taste buds!

Mini Punjab in Mumbai?

Punjabi food occupies a pride of place in Indian cuisine. Most people enjoy it and I am no exception. After all,  I am a Punjabi by birth. The spice content and variety is what make it popular. It is easily available across India  at small roadside eateries to Five star Hotels. Punjabi food is a must on the menu of most Indian restaurants. Mumbai is replete with Punjabi food.

North Indian cuisine mainly comprises dairy products; like milk, paneer, ghee, and yoghurt. Gravies are typically dairy-based. Punjabi cuisine includes home made preparations which are easy to cook and for which the ingredients are locally available or locally produced. Even spices which are used are not very exotic as other cuisines. Only regular spices such as bay leaf, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin, red chili are used.

The use of the “tawa” for baking flat breads like roti, paratha, naan, Kulcha and “tandoor” is common. The most popular dish of Punjab is the Makki Ki roti aur sarson ka saag. The dals are a specialty of Punjabi cuisine. Made of whole pulses like black gram, green gram and Bengal gram, they are cooked on a slow fire, often simmered for hours till they turn creamy and then are flavoured with spices and rounded off with a dollop of butter. Tandoori chicken, Amritsari Macchi, Chole Bhatura, Baingan Bhartha, Missi roti, Sarson da saag, Rajma masala, are other typical favourites.

Masala Mantar is a great place for Punjabi food in Mumbai. Urban Tadka in Andheri  is known for its wholesome Punjabi food. Pratap’s The Dhaba, is one of my favourites. Copper Chimney serves some of the best kebabs. Oye Punjabi is also good for certain dishes. The Great Punjab in Bandra is another hot spot. Of course Five Star Hotels serve delectable Punjabi cuisine.

Adhering to the culinary trends of the city, The Funjabi Tadka cuisine by Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi at Cest La Vie Bandra recently was essentially North Indian, rustic and home-style. Kadak Kulcha Aur Choley, Mushroom Ki Galouti Kabab, Fish Tikka Afghani, Beetroot aur Amley ka Kabab, Lawrence Road Ka Tandoori Murgh, were some memorable dishes.

Gulmurg, the fine dining restaurant at Shalimar Hotel, Kemps also recently organised  a Punjabi food festival titled, “Gurdaspur to Batinda-” where one could savour some lip smacking Punjabi food replete with authentic masalas and cooking techniques.

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Master Chef finalist  Jyoti Arora is in Mumbai this week, and is cooking dishes for the Punjabi Food Festival at JW Marriott Mumbai. A housewife from Punjab, Jyoti has been cooking since 29 years. A typical housewife, Jyoti takes pride in feeding people with her innovations, especially in Punjabi cuisine. I can’t wait to dig into the delectable fare she will be preparing. Will remind me of my mum’s home-cooked food I bet.