Tag Archives: streetfood

Aabar Khabo : Once is not enough

My connection from Kolkata, actually erstwhile Calcutta, is from birth. Yes, I was born and brought up in the City of Joy which I still sorely miss. Naturally then, Bengali food is my comfort food and I thoroughly enjoy the cuisine and all its nuances.

To visit the MoMo Cafe at Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai to try The Kolkata Konnection, Bengali food festival was a trip down memory lane for me.

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Curated by Executive Chef Avijit Deb Sharma and his team, including a chef from JW Marriott Kolkata, it was indeed a spread any gourmand would look forward to. The Bengali dishes were a part of the buffet spread, which of course offered other cuisines too, catering to wide palate. There was a separate counter with phuchka Kolkata’s version of pani puri) and jhal muri, the quintessential street food of Kolkata. And of course a separate section serving the lip-smacking Bengali starters, chicken cutlet, fish fry, vegetable chop et al.

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I bit into the fish fry and memories came flooding. I have grown up enjoying this delicacy in South Calcutta where I grew up at several places, but Mukherjee sweets in Ballygunge Place, being my all time favourite. This one was close. The fish fillet wrapped in spices, coated with breadcrumbs, was fried to perfection. Comforting and familiar flavours. The dhonepatta  bhaja or coriander fritter was spicy and fragrant. The chicken cutlet with chicken mince was delightful as was the vegetable chop with the characteristic beetroot, potatoes and groundnuts. I was off to a great start and was enjoying every morsel with kasundi or the mustard dip.

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The mains were a feast fit for the kings. The thaal or a huge thali with several katoris or vaatis was a treat for the eyes. Kosha mangsho or the onion based slow-cooked mutton preparation, cholar dal, alu posto, ilish or Hilsa fish, malai chingri or the creamy prawn curry, begun bhaja, kodaishutir kochuri or green peas puri and of course the pulao, fragrant with ghee and roasted nuts and raisins, was what my meal comprised. The lebu (lemon) chatni, tomato chutney and aamer (mango) chutney were also served along, as no Bengali meal is complete without these.

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The dishes were simple and cooked home-style. The flavours were authentic replete with the Bengali spices and ingredients (mustard oil, paanch phoran, gobindbhog rice, gondhoraj lebu) and the melange of textures, absolutely delightful.

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Not only was the meal delicious in terms of its taste and flavours, but equally a nostalgic one for me as I sat recounting endless occasions when I had sampled those dishes at home or with friends and family.

Rosogulla and aamer (mano) sandesh was what I finished my meal with.  Both got my vote. But of course there were other Bengali desserts on offer too.

I left MoMo Cafe happy and satiated, stuffing a Kolkata meetha paan in my mouth, with the smile not leaving my face.

On till June 24 for dinner, this Bengali food festival is a must try for those who relish Bengali food and others keen to experiment.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

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Fizz, Fun, Farcha & More….

Brun maska, cloyingly sweet chai, khari biscuits, are so Bambaiya and the Irani cafes at which we relish these are such an intrinsic part of our lives in Mumbai. Or shall I say, were? Yes, unfortunately, the favourite hangout of many of us -the Irani Cafes are fast disappearing. No wonder, when I first heard of SodaBottleOpenerWala  opening in Mumbai and Restaurateurs duo, Sabina and AD Singh doing their best to keep the flag of Irani cafes flying high, I was both touched and thrilled.

After opening several SBOWs (as we fondly call these), across India, Mumbai too got its first one recently in Mumbai’s plush BKC.

Getting a table here at night is an achievement by itself. We were lucky, as Shonali the Manager, juggled one for us albeit near the bar. That was in fact the most happening area with mixologists displaying their flair for bartending, adeptly preparing and mixing an array of drinks.

Shekangebin is what we opted for. Shikanji with jaggery, prune pieces was refreshing as it was sweet. Served in rustic, but cute bottles, it got our vote instantly. Of course there were several alcoholic and non alcoholic options in the menu. Raspberry soda was tempting but I let that be for another time.

Shekangebin

SBOW is definitely a happy place with a great vibe to it which welcomes you immediately and you feel at home from word go. So typical of an Irani cafe too. Warmth personified.

Our Chicken Farcha arrived. Boneless pieces of chicken fried to perfection with a spicy and delicious taste. I loved the way it was served in the traditional way on aluminium trays et al. No frills and yet, so appealing

Spicy mushroom on khari was delectable. Expectedly oily of course but we were not complaining. The mushroom topping was creamy and left you craving for more. The place was teeming with people who were having a good time. Us included.

How can one come to an Irani cafe and not eat keema pav? We succumbed and later, patted ourselves on the back for our perfect choice. The keema with its sweet spicy and tangy flavours was so typically reminiscent of the real one we are all used to. Served with the hot pav, it was a great combination. I have so many fond memories associated with this dish.

Keema Pav 1

A plethora of mutton dishes are on the menu to tantalise the taste buds of mutton lovers. And of course chicken too.

The menu here has been well-planned and with Chef Darius at the helm, there is no concern about the authenticity of the dishes. But I like the fact that apart from Parsi and Irani favourites, Mumbai street food, which we all cannot do without is also included. Dhanshak (classic Parsi dish of mutton with lentils and served with caramelized rice and kachumber), Paatra Ni Macchi (chutney steamed pomfret), our version of the Berry Pulao (veg, chicken and mutton), Prawn Patio (A tangy prawn preparation, sweet, sour and mildly spicy) and other old time favourites like Sali Mutton and Chicken, Goan Fish Curry, Chicken Baida Roti inspired from Bade Miya,  occupy a pride of place on the menu.

Sali Murghi

Vegetarians can equally feel at home at SBOW. Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo A/c Market Mamaji’s Grilled Sandwich and the Bombay Raasta Sandwich, Bharuchi Paneer Akuri with dry fruits et al,  are dishes everyone and anyone who loves food will enjoy.

The rules don’t change. One has got to keep space for the bakery items when at an Irani cafe and we did the same at SBOW. Freshly baked in the morning and sold by the piece, there is a wide selection and everyone can find their favourite item on the menu, I assure you. From Badam Nan Khatai to Shrewsbury Biscuit, Mawa Cake to Lagan nu Custard, there is everything. I gorged on the Apple Pie with Custard. The custard was a bit too sweet for my palate but the warm apple pie, filled generously with all things nice was an absolute delight and comforting.

This quirky SBOW, encapsulating all the elements of a typical Irani cafe in terms of decor, bric-a-bracs and more, is a must-visit for anyone who loves Irani food and fun. One can relax, enjoy great food and service, here.

This SodaBottleOpenerWala opens its doors and lets you into a place which is bound to be special to any Mumbaikar.

Rating: 4.5/5

When Bangkok Moves Closer Home and Heart

For us carnivores, the prospect of eating Vegetarian food and that too Pan Asian is daunting. But a visit to 38 Bangkok Street has made me think again.

An eatery which throws up a host of flavours, textures and aromas by way of variety in the all -Veg menu. The menu is exhaustive, well thought of and an exercise in choices.

38 Bangkok Street specializes in Pan Asian Cuisine – salads, curries, woks, noodles from the streets Thailand, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam to name a few. The best of all these cuisines, in nutshell, is on offer.

Our Laksa Penang soup arrives. The waft of the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves pervade pur nostrils even before we taste it. The first spoonful and we are reassured it is the real thing. High quality ingredients in a bowl of heavenly soup. A great start.

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Grilled tofu over a bed of Asian greens- our salad arrives next. It is light and flavourful and perks up our taste buds further. The greens are fresh and crunchy. I particularly enjoy the silken tofu which is grilled to perfection.

The fried Yasai tempura took me by surprise. Crispy, crunchy and flattering for my taste buds. Loved the vast array of exotic veggies that were used. Had to compel myself to stop, else I would have happily polished off all of them.

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The water chestnut dim sums were delectable. A nice moist covering and the filling too was crunchy owing to the water chestnut filling. Could have been a bit less spicy though. The accompanying sauces too were interesting.

The banana leaf wrapped cottage cheese was a tad disappointing. A bit too bland and the cottage cheese texture too was a bit rubbery.

Banana leaf wrapped cottage cheese

The options in the menu were ample. Unique Asian starters like the Crunchy Java Lotus Stem tossed with ginger garlic, Mock Duck Chilli Garlic, Cottage Cheese Sambai Bajak tossed  with  bell peppers and homemade Malaysian style fresh red chilli sauce etc.

The presentation of each dish served struck me as elegant and aesthetic. The chef obviously had an eye for detail.

Our main course comprised Tek Tek noodles, Nasi lemak and a spicy red curry, Sambal Bajak. The fragrant rice steeped in coconut milk and the Sambal curry got our unflinching vote. One of the best curries I have ever tasted. We did not miss non-veg at all for once. The noodles were nothing to write home about. Strictly ordinary.

The entire meal was overwhelming, in terms of the quality, variety and flavours. I had never enjoyed a Pan Asian meal which is vegetarian, to such an extent.

The service too is prompt and the place has a nice family ambience.

Our dessert was a pumpkin coconut cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. The cake was soft and moist and absolutely melt in the mouth. Full marks there too.

The zesty flavours of the fare at 38 Bangkok Street had tickled our palates beyond a doubt. We will surely be coming back soon for some more.
Rating: 4/5

Eclectic Singapore Street Food

Street food clearly seems to be the flavour of the season. And it’s not Indian street food that I am talking about. First it was delectable street food at JW Marriott Sahar and recently I savoured lip-smacking Singapore Street food at JW Marriott Juhu at the Lotus Cafe.

Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran had been flown in for the festival to lend that authentic touch to the food that JW Marriott is so particular about. So there were exciting Singaporean dishes to  look forward to.

Good food is a way of life in Singapore and there is so much to choose from – classic dishes, street food and modern interpretation of traditional cuisine.

Singapore Chilli Crab

Elaborating on his thought behind the menu, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran, Sous Chef, Singapore Marriott says “Singaporean food is a blend of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian flavours owing to the country’s multicultural heritage. Knowing how passionate Indians are about food, I wanted to recreate this experience in Mumbai, giving the guests a taste of local fare with a modern touch.”

Showcasing local and authentic delicacies was Chef Thana’s aim and he did just that. The spread was aromatic and colourful.

We began with the satays-chicken, fish and prawns. The peanut sauce infused with kaffir lime, struck me as unique and flavourful.  I liked the fact that Chef was innovating the dishes, without tampering with their authentic flavours.

The satays were grilled to perfection and simply melt in the mouth.

What can I say about the bowl of Laksa? It was comforting. Soul food actually. Each ingredient could be distinctly tasted in my sea food laksa. The flavours were delicate and yet, spicy and palate tingling. The aromas filled my nostrils even before I tasted the first spoonful. One of the best I have ever tasted in India.

Laksa Lehmak

The famed chili crab was another treat. The sauce was spicy and teased my taste buds and the crab meat within the shell was soft and succulent.

Other signature dishes included Rojak Petis Singapura, Gado-Gado Molek, Mutton Rendang, Singapura Chilli Crab,  Soya Braised Duck & Stir Fried Pork Loin. The spread seemed a wee bit limited to me, if some one were to avoid red meat and duck.

It was fun to watch the chefs at work at the live stations, adeptly grilling the satays or preparing the laksa.

The quality of the ingredients was evident. Fresh and wholesome, Chef Thana had brought along several ingredients so as not to compromise on the taste and flavour of the dishes. Of course he visited the local markets and created dishes with local stuff too.

No meal is complete without the legendary Singapore Sling which was being served complimentary to every guest.

An enjoyable meal rounded off with a sago pudding, left me satiated. For me, the Laksa won hands down.

Fans of Singapore food must rush and try this street food as it is on till Aug 31 only.

Savouring Street Food in Mumbai

Mumbai is a haven for foodies. I am not talking about restaurants only, but it’s eclectic street food. There is so much to choose from. Vada pav, behl puri, omelette pav, sandwiches, pav bhaji, keema- kaleji et al. There are several typical places for these delicacies although one gets these at every street corner.

Those apart, I recently sampled delectable street food at The Beatle Hotel in Powai. Chef Prashant Tikadia, is a culinary wizard and have known him for years. His ability to innovate and yet, serve authentic food never ceases to amaze me.

Baida curry, pav bhaji, masala tawa kobdi, vada pav, chaats, fish fry, usal, he had them all, but served them interestingly with a twist. The flavors were reminiscent of the ones you get on street side joints. I was instantly transported to different parts of Mumbai- Mohammed Ali road, Thane, Tardeo and so on. The spices were cleverly used and the texture, taste and flavours were recreated to perfection. The food was rustic and robust.

What’s more, the ambience in the restaurant was accurately created too. Each dish had a separate stall, so that one could pass by and savour what one wanted. Of course you could serve yourself, be comfortably seated and relish your food.

The attentive staff, their quick service, further made it a memorable dining experience. With oodles of calories added, I stepped out, satiated, albeit not without guilt.

Here is Chef Prashant Tikadia’s recipe. My favourite that night. Try it!

 

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Masala tawa kombdi

Chicken with bone -12 pieces

Marination

Ginger garlic paste – 050 gms

Green chilly paste – 020 gms

chopped coriander leaves- 010 gms

chopped mint leaves -005 gms

spring onion greens – 010 gms

onion- 01 no medium size

salt – to taste

lemon- 1 no

turmeric -002 gms

coriander powder-005 gms

cumin powder – 005 gms

for tawa masala

golden fried onions-  100 gms

curry leaves – few

green chillies chopped- 010 gms

coriander powder – 020 gms

cumin powder – oo5 gms

fresh coriander leaves chopped- 010 gms

chopped garlic-010 gms

chopped ginger -010 gms

sun dried coconut – 050 gms

oil- 100ml

method

@ wash  chicken and keep aside

@ peel and apply oil on whole onion and roast it at medium heat over charcoal or can be roasted in oven  till soft

@mix together all the ingridients for mariantation,add 3 to 4 table spoon water and blend it well till it become smooth,add lemon juice

@ marinate chicken with above masala for 20 to 25 minutes

@ for tawa masala heat oil add chopped garlic and fry till light golden in colour , add ginger and cook for a minute, add rest of the ingridients , add 200ml water and allow to simmer on low heat .

@ skewer marinated chicken and cook over charcoal or can be roast in oven

@ add cooked chicken to above masala and mix well .simmer over low heat and sprinkle sundried cococnut powder .adjust seasoning.

@ serve hot