Tag Archives: phirni

Shaan-e-Awadh @Jeon

A seemingly complex cuisine like the Awadhi, when simplified, in terms of flavours, can only be an achievement, attributed to a great chef. Chef Chandan Singh at Jeon, Hotel Sea Princess Juhu Mumbai, has manged to do just that. Without a doubt, the Awadhi Food Festival which begins here tomorrow is bound to find favour with foodies of all age groups.

This aromatic rich cuisine, replete with dry fruits, nuts and spices is famed for certain dishes. Nalli Nihari, Biryani, Taftan, Dal Makhani are a must, in a menu offering this cuisine. And Chef Chandan Singh along with fellow chef Amit and Executive Chef Jersen Fernandes has put together a menu, which showcases the best of Awadh.


The gajar and annanas ka shorba aka carrot and pineapple shorba that we started with, swept me off my feet. The amalgamation of two diversely flavoured ingredients, was done to perfection. One could actually taste the sweetish fresh pineapple as well as the carrot, both immersed in subtle spices.One of the best shorbas I have ever had. It actually left me craving for more. For once, the Murg dhaniya shorba, which was also delicious, seemed plain.

The galouti kebab, the hero of Lucknawi cuisine was as expected, melt-in-the-mouth. The aroma and flavours of spices were pronounced, but not overpowering. The chicken seekh struck me as extraordinary, in terms of the flavours and texture. The seekh was firm and soft, not mushy or chewy as it often tends to be at some restaurants. The meat, laced with herbs and spices, was an interesting bit of innovation.

In the mains, the fish tikki – rawas fillet in a tangy and well-spiced tomato based gravy, got my instant vote. The use of authentic Awadhi spices was a testimony of the chef’s mastery over his craft. No compromise here.

What can I say about the dal bukhara? For a minute, I thought I was at the ITC hotels. Chef Chandan Singh has clearly figured out the secret behind this coveted dish and has done full justice to it.


The Nalli Nihari was mildly flavoured, but the spices and richness of mutton, teased the palate just a wee bit. The accompanying, sweetish taftan was the perfect pair. Everything else paled in comparison.

The murg biryani was again a treat and perked up my taste buds as I tasted the first spoonful. Well-marinated, the chicken pieces were moist and succulent and meshed seamlessly with the flavoured rice, cooked in dum style. The aroma filled my nostrils as the purdah was removed and the biryani served.


The shahi tukra was every bit royal. A perfect finale to a great meal. The creamy and rich rabdi wrapped around the deep fried bread laced with nuts and dry fruits was delectable and decadent. The phirni in comparison was a tad bland and disappointing, although the texture was just right.


The meal overall, was overwhelming and had actually surpassed my expectations. Being used to some Awadhi meals with dishes doused with kewra and rose water and rich and greasy meat dishes, this one was a welcome change. Simple, authentic flavours, true to its Nawabi origins. Yet, nothing in the meal made one feel heavy or caused discomfort.

I left Jeon with a happy smile, almost having made a trip to Awadh.

The Awadhi food festival is on from Nov 5 till November 15 and is a treat, food lovers should not miss.

Rating: 4/5






Flavours of India

One can never go wrong with Indian cuisine. There is so much variety. 180 degrees the all day dining restaurant at Grand Sarovar Premiere is currently hosting a Discover India food festival till September 21 daily for dinner.

Chef Kamlesh and his team have created a versatile menu for each day with a different region’s cuisine each day for the next seven days.

Punjabi cuisine was the theme the first day. And I couldn’t be more glad.

Robust flavours and varied textures were on offer across the buffet menu. So while sarson ka saag n makki di roti were obviously there, so was Amritsari machhi n phirni. Authentic Punjabi flavours characterised each of the dishes. The live station had chefs frying piping hot bhaturas with spicy chole as well as lip smacking dahi bhallas, papdi chaat et al


What’s more, apart from traditional Punjabi fare there were dishes from other parts of India too. Hyderabad’s dum ki machhi was on the table with lucknawi rajma galouti n Maharashtrian usal. There was something for every palate and plenty of vegetarian options too.


The highlight was the soulful badami chicken shorba, phirni and sarson ka saag. The chicken pulao fell short of expectations though.

A must visit for foodies who relish Indian cuisine. I am sure going back for more. Bengali food maybe?

Ramzan Repast

I had heard so much about the delectable Ramzan food at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai where every year many of my friends and family head to savour the sumptuous spread. But somehow a trip there has always eluded me. So when the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust(SBUT) Mumbai very generously invited me for a food walk, I decided not to miss the opportunity in spite of the downpour all day yesterday. Nothing was going to deter me today, I thought.

We were warmly greeted by the SBUT team at their office and shown around, after which we trooped to the streets armed with our umbrellas and folded trousers/ salwars.

Our first stop was the Haji Tikka house where the aroma of charcoal grilled meats permeated our nostrils and made us hungrier. Chicken tikka, drumsticks, mutton sheekhs, kaleji et al were on offer. I relished only the chicken tikka and drumsticks. Mouth- watering stuff which had unique flavours that one can never find in a restaurant. Standing under a tin roof, by the side of the road, chatting and munching hot tikkas, to the sound of the heavy rain, was a rustic and memorable experience. Equally fascinating was to spectacle of the  guy effortlessly and expertly moulding the kebabs and grilling them a la minute.


Indian Hotel next door was the second halt. Mutton in all forms was served, Baida roti made of maida, eggs and mince, fried into crisp pieces. Lip smacking. Similar to the Bengali moghlai paratha, though not exactly. The naan chaap was more of a burger bun with the mutton chaap sandwiched in between. Tasty, but not extraordinary.  The mutton roll cut into small pieces almost resembled a spring roll. Succulent pieces of mutton were rolled in a maida covering. The owner regaled us with anecdotes as we chomped on our food. About 180 kgs of mutton was used daily during Ramzan in the earlier days. He said chicken was a relatively new phenomenon as many people nowadays prefer chicken. But gourmets clearly come here to relish the meat delicacies. I could see that for myself as cars stopped and people kept entering the place.


Surti 12 Handi came next. Various parts of the goat – gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), pichota (tail), paya (trotters), etc are stewed separately in  different vessels with various masalas. The curries are then mixed together. Unfortunately, I decided to skip the paya, as this kind of organ meat does not appeal to my palate or senses. Served with large Indian breads called Qabooz, my friends were enjoying it.


We saved the best for the last. Tawakkal sweets was undoubtedly, the best place as far as I was concerned. Melt in the mouth mango phirni, eggless and egg malpuas with malai, mango malai were some of the sweets we gorged on. Rich and creamy, these were enough to make one pile on calories in a jiffy, but we were indulging in guilty pleasure. The person outside fried hot malpuas in a kadai, while another served phirni from packed trays arriving regularly from their workshop across.


The saancha or hand churned ice cream at Taj Ice cream, I had heard so much about was a dampner. A real let down. I found it too synthetic and rich. The sitaphal flavour supposedly his best selling ice cream was disappointing. The mango was a bit better. But nothing could erase the memory of the mango phirni.


The trip surpassed my expectations. My taste buds were satiated and after an enjoyable experience, we headed back home.  This Ramzan would remain etched in my memory for a long time to come. Truly a haven for foodies, go there if you have not already.


A Royal feast: Zaffran

An entry into Zaffran at Todi Mills , Lower Parel, Mumbai is embarking upon an exciting culinary journey of North Indian cuisine. With an  all new look and design that presents a different experience, the original charm, flavours and taste, that have been the hallmarks of Zaffran since 2003 are completely intact.

Zaffran by Ice Hospitality is run by a trio: Munib Birya, Param Gandhi and Chef Chetan Sethi and is known for its outstanding Indian dishes with special touches that make even the simplest dishes a magical gourmet experience. After the first ever outlet that opened at Crawford Market, Mumbai, this is their first expansion in South / Central Mumbai.

The dining area at the ground level has an understated elegance with water bodies and cosy alcoves, reminiscent of an unfurling saffron bud. The décor is contemporary and yet spells the old world charm.

The upper level is equally plush with Bedouin inspired interiors with “mashaal” lamps lighting up your way as you make yourself comfortable under dazzling screens and shamianas.

In keeping with the Indian tradition of hospitality, the service at Zaffran is exemplary. Since we were not drinking wine, kachi kairi Margherita is what we were recommended and it was the perfect choice. Tangy and sour, it actually helped me whip up an appetite for the delicious food to follow. The Zaffrani Murg shorba, was a delight for the palate. The shredded chicken and fried onions complimented each other and the hot broth was soothing.  Easily one of the best soups I have had. The naanlets with a mushroom stuffing were cute and tasty.

Although we were eating Non vegetarian food, we were told that the vessels for non veg were reddish in colour while the silver ones were meant for Vegetarians. A nice comforting distinction I thought.

gosht seekh kebab copy

The kebab platter looked appetizing. The fillet in the macchi tikka simply melt in the mouth and was perfectly spiced. The seekh kebab had overpowering spices which doused the flavour of the lamb and was thus disappointing. The lasooni prawn was fresh and succulent, although a bit bland. Vegetarian options were exciting too. Tandoori broccoli was unique, as was the galouti. The paneer tikka was nothing to write home about.

The Zaffrani Raan biryani tantalised our palates and was cooked to perfection. The aroma filled the air, even before we tasted it. Dal makhni was excellent and reminiscent of the one at Bukhara, ITC. The kadai macchi was luscious and the butter chicken rendered me speechless.

The meal was sumptuous and the desserts were just another step towards gluttony. The zaffrani phirni had too much of saffron in it, and the rice in the phirni was a wee bit grainy. The chenna payesh was delectable and reminded me of Kolkata and my Bong connection.

phirni copy


Chef Chetan Sethi has painstakingly created the menu and the ingredients spell quality from word go, while the flavours and textures have been carefully blended. Dining at Zaffran is truly akin to attending a royal feast.

Dil Garden Garden Ho Gaya

It is always a pleasure to dine at The Club, D.N. Nagar Andheri West. The food is outstanding and the place exudes warmth that is unparalleled. With Awadhi cuisine specialist, Master Chef Mohammad Aslam Qureshi being there this season at Garden Grill, the outdoor restaurant, a visit was a must.

Cheerfully greeted, by the staff, we were seated comfortably at a table which allowed us a good view of the melodious Ghazal singers as well. The Murg tukra shorba had delectable flavours, which helped create an appetite. Hot and tangy, it was comforting to eat. The kebab platter was a delight. The highlight was the chicken kulfi (chicken mice stuffed in chicken drumsticks with aromatic spices n yoghurt). It reminded of a chicken karela kebab I used to eat at Sai Palace at Andheri east many eons ago. Aslam ke Kebab with lamb mince n lentils, was a tad disappointing I must confess.  Vegetarians could gorge on Paneer Tikke and Khumbh Amritsari.

The multi grain rotis in the main course were crunchy yet soft and paired well with the Dal Makhni and the Muroko Mutton Korma. The flavour of the spices and mutton, filled the air as the dish arrived on the table. Boneless pieces of mutton simply melt in my mouth. Butter chicken, Tariwali Machi are other must try for non-vegetarians while the others can relish Zafrani Malai Kofta or Bagar Baigan. The menu is really innovative yet traditional. Lasooni Palak is a real treat. Opt for Amritsari Kulchas if you enjoy a heavy meal and pair them with cholas. And of course there is the famous Biryani too. Awadhi cuisine at its best.

We tried the phirni, which was an apology of the real one. Diluted and not at all creamy. Gajar halwa, gulab jamuns maybe safer bets.

Overall a hearty and robust meal, with mellifluous gahazals and nostalgia.