Tag Archives: seasonal

Soulful Soups

Ah! there is something about soups in this weather that is so comforting. If made with the right ingredients and spices, these can be nourishing as well as healthy too. Nothing like a steaming bowl or mug of soup especially for dinner. In fact, on most days I prefer just that.

Goan, Bokdiacho caldo (mutton soup) made from mutton bones, onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander leaves and dices of potato, salt and pepper, is my all-time favourite. It is filling and boosts my immunity too. Caldo Verde with potatoes as the base is also a light and flavourful vegetarian soup of Portuguese origin.

minestrone-soup

Being from Kolkata, I am used to relishing a spicy Thukpa, a Tibetan soup made with mixed vegetables, mixed meats and noodles  when the mercury dips. There is something for every palate in global cuisines too. Mulligatawny, Tom Kha, Tom Yum, Miso soup, Lobster bisque. My mouth is watering now.

Be imaginative and play around with flavours and textures. Be experimental. And global soups are not your only options. A plethora of soups from our very own Indian cuisine are a delight in this weather. Soups made from dals or lentils, paya soup, tamatar ka shorba or even a murg shorba. The options are endless.

butternut-pumpkin-soup

Don’t forget to add seasonal veggies in your soups wherever possible for that extra health quotient. Pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, work wonders. And yes, the right spices to for additional warmth and immunity.

Cinnamon works wonders, as do ginger and garlic. I love to add these in my soups where ever possible.

If the soup alone is insufficient, pair it with garlic bread, toast or add macaroni to your soups or even red rice, to make it more sumptuous.

There is nothing like a well-made soup, it is soulful and comforting in winter, keeping winter blues at bay.

 

 

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Fun Times Back in Bandra

People in Bandra are going to be excited this Friday. Café Basilico, one of Bandra’s hotspots, returns in a new avatar at a new location on Hill Road. Reason enough to celebrate. I missed it terribly, for the short while that it was away.

I was lucky to get a sneak preview. The menu clearly looked interesting with a strong focus on local produce, I noticed.

Not surprising, as the produce is going to be sourced directly from Farhan’s Bhiwandi farm. I am all for seasonal produce and fresh ingredients. Makes a world of difference to flavours in food.

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

The roast organic tomato soup was comforting, more so as I chatted animatedly with a friend. The smoky flavour was distinct and soothed my taste buds. The slight piquancy enhanced the flavours.

The fig and goat cheese salad was hearty and the ingredients, fresh and crunchy. The Mozarella and Chicken croquettes salad too was interesting and had unique contrasting flavours. We were off to a good start.

Mozarella and Chiken Croquettes - Salads

 

The signature Mediterranean Platter was a treat and the baba ghanoush and hummus particularly appealed to me.

One can rarely go wrong with prawns and the peri peri sea food prawns were fresh and succulent, with a dash of spice to them, just enough to tingle our palates.

The assorted vegetarian tempuras too were well made. I did not enjoy the falafel in comparison.

But it was the Harissa Chicken which got my vote. The chicken was grilled to perfection and swathed in the harissa sauce, it simply melt in the mouth, leaving the taste buds crave for more.

The Basa too was well-marinated, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. And that is a huge compliment considering I dislike Basa immensely. Only creative chefs can turn that around and make it tasty and appealing. Chef Das certainly managed to do that.

What struck me as interesting was the fact that Café Basilico boasts of an extensive menu with several vegan options curated by Ayesha. That truly is much needed today. Kudos!

For people like me who love breads, this place is a haven.The Sandwiches and burgers section  is exhaustive. Hummus & Iceberg or the Chermoula Grilled Chicken sandwiches and the Blue Cheese Beef Steak or the Soya, Barley & Mushroom Burgers, there is something for every palate.

Café Basilico’s pizzas are all prepared from their traditionally organic tomato sauce with  vegan options too. That’s not all. There is an array of pastas to choose from too.

 

 

 

 

One can be experimental and enjoy one’s meal with seasonal fresh fruit juices, flavoured coolers or refreshing lemonade, iced teas and coolers like Tropical Guava Cooler or Cucumber Cooler.

Cucumber Cooler

The menu never ceased to surprise me. There were a plethora of coffees, green tea, premium teas and caffeine free herbal infusions  too. And yes desserts too.

The mini tarts- chocolate, mango and lemon that we sampled were delicious as far as the filling went, but the tart was too soft and crumbly.

Overall, the food is of a very good quality, as is the variety and presentation. The decor is elegant and subtle and gives you the feel of a global cafe, yet, providing you privacy, if you want.

Cafe Basilico lived up to my expectations yet again.

Fun times are back in Bandra and how!

Rating : 3.5/5

 

 

 

Light and Healthy Eats

Now that the festive season is over, and we have begun a new year,  may be we all want to eat light and healthy for a few days at least. I sure am trying. It is a healthy winter soup each night for dinner- pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, and so on. I also tried an interesting turkey lentil soup recently. Aromatic, flavourful and warm. A soup is meant to be an appetiser, but sometimes ends up becoming the meal itself.

Not that I am feeling guilty for the over-indulgence. But it’s just nice to give the body a bit of a rest before we start again. Salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches can be varied and healthy. A low calorie meal can still satisfy your hunger.

And trust me, these need not be bland or boring.  Can be carefully planned and jazzed up. Who can ever tire of the classic soup and salad meal? Not me for sure. I love it. Only make sure your salads are varied and have many colourful ingredients, so that boredom does not set in.

A hearty soup stock with winter vegetables is satisfying  enough or at best pair it with a sandwich made with leftover chicken or ham. And yes, wholewheat bread. When eating a salad, try and avoid heavy salad dressings or dips. I prefer a lot of mustard instead, or even lime, for that zing in a salad.

herb menu copy

A salad with mixed leafy greens, crunchy celery, carrots and tomatoes makes for a delicious meal. For a heartier salad, add tuna or salmon, croutons and cheese. Yes, a bit of cheating is allowed, if only to pamper your taste buds a bit. Jazz up your salad with seasonal fruits. Nothing like apples and oranges in salads. A sea food salad is a good bet too.

Pasta salad makes a filling, but still light, meal. Add veggies to your pasta, as well as some chicken, and a dash of olive oil and you have a tasty meal ready.

Wraps with smoked chicken are one of my favourites. The wraps should be of whole wheat though. Or a falafel wrap maybe?

One must keep in mind that more of protein and less carbs is ideal these days. And of course fatty foods and fried stuff should be completely avoided. Red meat is best stayed away from. After all you have had enough of sorpotel and sanna during Christmas. Haven’t you?

Steamed vegetables, legumes and beans are again a wonderful way to detox your body. Keep away from those sausages, burgers, nuggets and pate. Those may be handy and easy to consume, but are heavy and far from healthy. Processed food is a big no-no for me.

Exotic Mushroom Ramen  - The Fatty Bao - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra-

Consciously add green leafy vegetables, whole grains to your diet. Hummus chicken with brown rice pilaf is a treat and yet, light. The brown rice chicken pilaf at Nothing But Chicken or their Bistro salad are great options too.

So keep eating light and healthy meals the next few days, to ease off your system. Stay fit, Stay healthy. Tell me how January goes.

Fresh, flavourful with global appeal

Le Pain Quotidien is not a cafe I generally frequent in Mumbai. But alas! I want to remedy that now. I stepped in for lunch yesterday to sample their new menu to commemorate their 25th birthday worldwide and discovered what I have been missing for such a long time.

Known for its farm fresh ingredients, pure and organic, it is indeed a delight to dine here and more so now with the new menu which actually tells you where those fresh ingredients are sourced from. Yes, the names of the vendors are listed there. I really appreciate this transparency. Makes one feel so comfortable in the knowledge that you know where, what you are eating, is coming from. Kudos!

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Seasonal and local produce is what LPQ is promoting with a vengeance. And I love that concept of  Think local, Be Global.

The new menu has 50% new inclusions. There is a sumptuous breakfast and brunch, all day meals which include  drinks, soups, salads, tartines, main course and of course desserts.

A whole new section of set breakfasts- The Farmer, The Angler, The Desi and The Botanist, have been introduced with something for everyone’s palate, uniquely presented in an LPQ-way. I am definitely coming back to try this.

Long-standing favorites are still on the menu, including the famous Belgian Waffle, Eggs Benedict, the signature Smoked Chicken & Cheddar Tartine, The Cobb Salad, Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli or Chicken Stroganoff.

The new menu has a special focus on vegetarian and botanical (or vegan) offerings.  More than before, shall I say. But of course, there’s a lot for carnivores too.

We sipped our Green Juice with kale, green apple, celery, lemon & ginger and I have never enjoyed a fresh juice more. Tangy, tart, spicy, sweet, it was a medley of all this and more.  One could taste each ingredient. Rejuvenated me instantly.

Our Detox Salad with mixed sprouts, red cabbage, kale, carrot, red spinach and chia seeds came next.  A visual delight for sure. Normally, I would have perceived this to be boring and insipid. But I was proven wrong.  It was delicious  and the fresh ingredients, the crunch and the bite that it offered in abundance, got this one, my vote instantly. And yes, I  certainly got that boost and  my vitamins for the day.

The sharing platter- Botanical left me speechless. The oven roasted tomato tapenade was luscious and teased my palate no end. Paired well with the in-house rye bread.  The quinoa scramble was an absolute treat. The black olive tapenade and the exotic veggies were great too. It was difficult to hold oneself back and we nearly polished off the entire platter.

The Salmon and ricotta Tartines (open bread sandwiches) struck me as unique. The salmon was of the highest quality and completely melt in the mouth slices. The layer of cheese on it enhanced the flavour by adding the right amount of zest to it.

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The Omega 3 Avocado Mash Tartine  is a new addition and one you should not miss. Creamy and flavourful, there is a burst of flavours in one’s mouth.

 

In the main course, the Kasundi Mustard Basa with the red rice risotto swept me off my feet. The otherwise, insipid and flavourless Basa had been perked up beyond imagination with the mustard and the subtle spices. The well made risotto complimented it to perfection.

Basa

 

Each dish surpassed my expectations and Chef Amit had proven his culinary magic yet again.

Decadent desserts are on offer. Be it the new entries,  Baba au Rum or the Belgian Chocolate &Cacao Cake or the all time favorite Soft-Centred Chocolate Cake and Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream.

We were asked to try the Belgian chocolate & cacao cake and it was the perfect recommendation. Rich, gooey, melt in the mouth chocolate in a soft, well-baked cake. This was pure sin. The peach and almond pie was equally a delight in a crunchy crust base with a soft and creamy topping.

 

Alain Coumont, the Belgian chef and restaurateur, and founder of Le Pain Quotidien has lots to be proud of.

I had one of my best dining experiences at LPQ BKC, Mumbai in a  long time.

Rating: 4.5/5