Tag Archives: robust

Celebrating Simple Vegetarian Food Lavishly

The word ‘Haveli’ immediately conjures images of royalty and opulence. Naturally then, an invite to The Bombay Haveli, a new vegetarian restaurant in Charni Road, Mumbai added to my intrigue and excitement. Add to that was the fact that one was visiting ‘Bombay’ after a long time, instead of Mumbai.

Easily accessible, this vegetarian restaurant lives up to its name. The high ceilings, elegant but plush decor, exudes magnificence and warmth. The seating sections both down and upstairs are comfortable, although the area down appears more relaxed and less cramped. The polite and affable staff puts you at ease immediately.

I actually look forward to vegetarian meals even though am a carnivore no less, as to my mind, to wow a palate with vegetarian flavours is challenging, yet, perhaps more exciting for a chef.

The menu is eclectic – Gujarati, Rajasthani, North Indian and Parsi food and yes, some global dishes too with a twist. The food here caters to all age groups unabashedly. The sections of the menu too are creatively worded. The food is hearty and robust, true to the original flavours, yet with its own distinct character.

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The patra ni machchi with a paneer version struck me as an interesting addition. The chutney is authentic and the texture of the paneer closest to that of fish here.

The Rajwadi dhokli boasts of robust flavours and the right elements of spice. Truly a palate pleaser. The panchmel dal wada is equally a delight for the taste buds and offers a great bite. The options are plenty as the menu is an exercise in choices.

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For mains, the dal bati churma gets my instant vote as does the mag ni dal ni khichdi and kadhi. Absolutely comforting and replete with authentic flavours.  The rustic touch to the dal bati churma is what keeps its sanctity and makes it unique. The food is refreshingly simple and unpretentious. The portions are generous and value-for-money.

Those not fond of Gujarati food can happily tuck into palak paneer, chola bhatura, yellow dal et al and there is plenty of fun food for youngsters and kids as well.

The desserts too are varied and the gulkand rabdi with jalebis that I sampled is lip-smacking- the right amount of sweetness and the perfect creamy texture of the rabdi. The gulkand flavours too are subtle. The crisp and well-fried jalebis pair well with it.

A lot of thought has gone into the menu and an earnest effort made to keep the food light yet flavourful.

The Bombay Haveli truly celebrates vegetarian food in all its glory. Kudos to Marzy Parakh, Parth Dalal and Sarthak Oza, for giving Mumbai a part of Bombay yet again.

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

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Rustic & Robust Flavours from A Village

Pind da khana sounds comforting at once. After all it means, food from your village. And here, if the ‘pind’ in question is Punjab, well, automatically it spells familiarity and comfort for me.

Baluchi at The Lalit, Mumbai is currently hosting a Pind da Khana festival till Saturday for both lunch and dinner.

My lunch began on a refreshing note with the Shikanji soda or lemonade with rock salt and soda. The right amount of sweetness and salt. Just the way I love mine. It helped me create an appetite.

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The menu was fairly exhaustive and I was in a dilemma. What shall I eat or skip? Amritsari Chholey kulchey, Patialashahi kadhai Paneer, Kadhi pakoda, Jalandhari barrah boti and Amritsari Machhi. I was impressed with the vegetarian options too. .

The traditional Atte Gond ka halwa, whole wheat flour sweet delicacy with nuts and natural gum- recipe which originates from Phagwara district- a sugar producing belt of Punjab as well as gulabi phirnee, gulab jamun et al, adorned the dessert section of the menu.

Executive Chef Angshuman Chakraborty came to my rescue and promised to send me small portions of some of the special dishes. I was sorted.

The chicken tikka and Macchi Ajwaini tikka arrived. A bite into the succulent chicken tikka and I figured out this was no ordinary fare. The tikkas were well marinated and the flavours of the marinade had enveloped the tikka perfectly. The fresh pieces of  River Sole fish with the right amount of spices that teased my taste buds, was equally a delight. No overdose of ajwain or spices here at all.

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Executive Chef Angshuman Chakraborty , Master Chef Rais Alam and his culinary team had surely whipped up an array of authentic, robust and flavourful delicacies, which I was thoroughly relishing.

The dhaniya mirch da kukkad with whole chillies, onion and coriander was a delectable medley for my palate, subtle yet, spicy. It paired well with the laccha paratha, besan ki roti and naan, the chef had sent. The methi matar preparation and the dhaba dal in the main course, got my vote instantly. For a change it was not the usual dal makhni but a tasty mixed dal with interesting spices. And the methi, rustic and appeased my palate.

The Rarah gosht and kukkad pulao looked inviting on the menu, but there was no scope to try more today.

Nothing in the meal was oily or greasy that made one feel uneasy. That’s what set this meal apart.

The aate gond ka halwa was easily one of the best I have ever tasted. The variety of textures- creamy, crunchy, were a delight, as were the flavours and the aroma of fresh ghee. The phirnee too was excellent, but today, paled in comparison.

The ambience and decor of the restaurant was in keeping with the theme and the service was warm, attentive and efficient, yet, unobtrusive, as it should be.

My experience at Baluchi, had actually surpassed my expectations. I was glad I had stepped in to savour such an exceptional meal. I knew for a fact, I was going to be coming to The Lalit Mumbai more often, if this is how Chef Angshuman and his team succeeded in luring food lovers like me.

 

 

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.

Eccellente pasto!Italian food at its best!

I can keep waxing eloquent about Italian cuisine, one of my favourite global cuisines. Across India, there are a few places that serve really good Italian fare, but La Terrazza at Hyatt Regency Pune, bowled me over completely.

The decor and ambience beckons you immediately. The place exudes warmth in abundance. We were seated on a corner table with a nice view.

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The set menu for lunch seemed fairly exhaustive. And given the options, it was value for money too. Salad, soup, Pasta/pizza and a veg or non veg main course and of course dessert. An extremely generous menu, I thought this was.

Our Mushroom broth with porcini mushroom and chicken arrived. Aesthetically served. Piping hot, just the way I love it. And the aroma of the mushrooms filled my nostrils. Comforted me, instantly. A few sips and I enjoyed the well-balanced flavourful soup thoroughly.

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My Mesclun salad (with olive, sundried tomato, parmesan shaving and balsamic dressing) was light and palate-tingling. Fresh and robust flavours oozed out of the high quality ingredients. Full marks here too.

Our potato gnocchi with AOP(aglio olio e pepperoncino) sauce and liberal amount of chicken was delightful. The chef recommended the sauce and we loved it. It complimented the creamy potato gnocchi. An artful pairing this was.

Not  a single dish was heavy and made us experience discomfort. Each morsel was being relished by us. The staff was attentive and the service warm and unobtrusive.

The grilled chicken with creamy polenta was the perfect choice. Succulent breast of chicken, grilled to perfection yet moist, was the apt match for the creamy, coarse polenta. The portions struck me as generous.

The meal had proved to be a memorable one but even though I was satiated with the vast flavours and textures I had experienced, I could not say no to the Tiramisu, my all time favourite dessert. And this one was worth trying. Soft, creamy, wit the right hint of rum and mascarpone cheese, it just melt in our mouths. This was truly a grand finale to a lip-smacking meal.

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This three course lunch at Rs 675 plus taxes is a steal. Any lover of Italian food should not miss this opportunity to gorge on choicest Italian delicacies for this price. And throw in a glass of red or white wine and pay only Rs 100 extra. Incredible!

Office goers too can partake this delectable filling lunch in the afternoons, away for a short break from work. I wish I lived in Pune!

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

 

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.

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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

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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.

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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?

A Celebration of all things Irish !

Irish House may keep opening outlets across the city of Mumbai, but each one continues to surprise you and has an aura of mystique about it. Stepping into one, never tires me. I was as gung-ho about exploring the Andheri West outlet, as I was when I had been to the first one in Lower Parel, several aeons ago.

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The characterstic décor and ambience greeted us. Teeming with people, this place was pulsating.  It seemed oh-so! Familiar and yet new. Loved it from word go.

Once seated, we settled for Drunken mushrooms. These oven roasted infused with tequila, topped with spinach, goat cheese n parmesan were the perfect beginning. Absolutely melt-in-the-mouth and with an array of flavours and textures in one dish. we were ready for the evening.

As I sipped my refreshing Kiwi & Lime Iced tea, I bit into the Wasabi japonica – rock shrimp tossed in wasabi mayo. Ooh! I was in for a huge disappointment. Gooey, doused in mayo, the shrimps had lost their taste, texture and flavour completely. Luckily the Irish Sergeant potato skins came to our rescue and revived our taste buds. The cheesy potato skins with corn, were familiar to my palate and I realised those were such a safe bet.

Goat cheese salad came next. Warm goat cheese with kalamata olives, goat cheese, plum tomatoes n parmesan croutons, salads are  my comfort food anyway and this one too proved to be just that. The crunchy salad with the tangy olives, soft creamy goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette teased our taste buds sufficiently. My palate was cleansed and ready for the next dish.

Traditional stuffed chicken in a pastry shell served with a rosemary merlot sauce indeed ended up being “our” chicken dish that evening and we were floored with it. Baked to perfection, the crispy pastry shell was an ideal complement to the chicken and the sauce added the right amount of flourish. We decided to share it as it seemed too big to relish alone. It was a sensible decision. After all the dark bottom Kahlua verrine was waiting for us. A treat for the taste buds, it was sinful as expected but not cloyingly sweet. A bit heady too, but just the right flavours. A winning combination.

The menu of course is exhaustive with typical favourites like Smokie’s Lamb pie, hearty burgers, Fish n chips, Hunter’s penne et al. Each dish is value for money, robust and filling. That’s what appeals to me about Irish House.

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The sight of young people guzzling draught beers and enjoying themselves is common. Adds to the ambience actually.

All in all, a great evening, with foot-tapping music, refreshing drinks and delicious food. I want to go back soon!

 

 

Pizza Express-ions

American pizza has never appealed to me. Yes, we have all grown up eating a slice of thick, spongy pizza, with toppings, but ever since I tasted the real Italian pizza, my palate only craves for that. Not surprising therefore, that I have been waiting for Pizza Express, the pizza chain renowned worldwide for its authentic Italian taste. It’s another thing that it makes me nostalgic about London too !

PizzaExpress has positioned itself as a casual dining restaurant. Its outlets have a live kitchen where customers can watch the making of a pizza live, interact with their chefs and spend hours over slices of pizza. I did just that, last weekend.

The Andheri West outlet, was buzzing with people that night. Families were busy dining and of course enjoying the Pizza and pastas.

Comfortably seated, we placed our order and soon, our Bosco salad arrived. Hearty portions as always. The salad was fresh and robust. Roasted tomatoes, spinach, rocket, and more. It was delicious. The right amount of crunch and zing. I simply loved it.

Four Seasons, the classic pizza arrived. Mushrooms, pepperoni, anchovies and olives and capers. Whew! An interesting quartet! The contrast of the four was interesting as the palate was subjected to a treat. Only found the anchovies a wee bit salty.

 

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Polo Ad Astra came next. The thin crust was so reminiscent of the perfect Italian pizza. The grilled chicken had an unusual flavour and the sweet peppers, Cajun spices et al only further enhanced the taste. Outstanding.

La Reine with ham, mushrooms, olives and mozzarella I thought would be the best, but alas it was not. It lived up to my expectations but did not surpass them. Lacked the punch somehow.  The Cipolla Caramellata more than made up for all. The sweet flavour of caramelised onions teased my palate enough to be able to enjoy the taste and texture of walnuts, artichokes and mozzarella.

The ingredients used are authentic and of extra ordinary quality. True to the core. The service, despite the heavy rush was flawless.

The menu did not have any beef offerings and had clearly more vegetarian and spicy varieties to appeal to the Indian palette.  Even chilli flakes are never there in the London outlets I have been to.

We decided to skip pastas and desserts for a change. The menu offers several options though. The pizzas had satiated us enough. With outlets in Colaba, BKC and Andheri West, Pizza Express has a fairly good reach and given the quality of their food and service, they are bound to cause discomfort among other Pizza chains.