Tag Archives: variety

Love in Tokyo

No, I am not in Tokyo, nor have I ever been there. But I was lucky enough to have a Tokyo-esque experience recently right here in Mumbai.

Crepes have always been French and of course stylish and snobbish. Meant to be eaten in the proper way.

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Tokyo Creperie the newest entrant on busy and bustling Carter Road, Bandra has redefined crepes and made them more accessible and yes, flavourful.

From sweet to savory, from the classic to adventurous, this place is perfect for a crepe indulgence. Started by two friends Saagar Panchal and Uzair Ansari, this Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) concept serves Harajuku-styled sweet and savory crepes, as a stuffed ‘on-the-go’ cone.

Chef Anees Khan has created original Japanese crepes by infusing them with a wide selection of Indian flavors, combinations and toppings and that is what makes them stand apart from others.

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I began with a Chicken Cafreal crepe as it sounded intriguing. Oh! delicious it was. The crepe was soft and yet, well-done on the outside and the spicy and falvourful cafreal chicken a la Goa was generously filled inside the cone with lettuce, veggies, mayo et al. It was a light but satiating meal.

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Next came my chipotle chicken crepe which surpassed my expectations. Well-roasted chicken chunks, combined with veggies and a delectable sauce. The good quality ingredients ooze out of every bite and the presentation, entices you immediately.

Butter Chicken, Chicken chicken peri peri popcorn, Fish Amritsari ,are some of the other options on the menu that struck me as interesting.

What do I even say about my sweet crepe with Mango crème brulee custard ? It was pure sin. Creamy, sweet and luscious flavours enveloped my taste buds upon the first bite and rendered me speechless. Quite literally.

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Apart from these, Oreo biscuits along with other classic cookies, chocolates and ice cream have been turned into fritters, which make for crunchy desserts. There are fruity sodas too to quench your thirst.

Saagar Panchal the co-founder was actually taking orders and explaining the concept painstakingly to consumers. “Crepes are traditionally a guilty pleasure or indulgent treat. We’re redefining the way people think about and enjoy crepes by using fresh, unique ingredients you can feel good about eating,” he said.

There is something for every palate here. The crepes are affordably priced and perfect for a grab and go tasty treat as these are non-messy.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating the flavours of Maharashtra

Regional flavours always excite me and although I live in Mumbai, authentic Maharashtrian food is hard to find in the city save a few places, else one needs to dine at a friend’s place. Naturally then, an invitation  from Executive Chef Suresh Thampy, to experience the varied and diverse flavours of Maharashtra at the food festival at Saptami, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, was hard to resist.

The air was redolent with a festive spirit and the buffet spread beautifully laid out with floral decorations et al on each table. There were enough vegetarian dishes to choose from ranging from the bhareli vangi to the ambat thikat suran and lasana che fodni cha bhaat to laal channe che usal but the piece de resistance were the non-vegetarian fare which would entice any carnivore. Saoji mutton curry, mutton kalimiri masala, shimpe kolambi masale bhaat, Malvani mutton rassa and more.

A live counter had a chef dishing out fresh seafood – surmai, rawas, mandeli a la minute. Soon a platter arrived on my table with these fried delicacies and of course the kanda bhajji. Piping hot and served with chutney, this perked up my taste buds. The kombdi cha saar, my soup for the evening was spicy and flavoursome.

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I could not help notice the detailing done at the buffet. Bhakarwadi, besan laddu, murmurche ladu, were on offer to give it the perfect homely touch.

The puran poli with toop and rai kadi patta chi amti arrived and the aroma was unmistakable. The well-stuffed, warm puran poli simply melt in my mouth and was deeply comforting and the balance of the flavours with the tangy and sour dal was outstanding.

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The vade with chicken rassa were an absolute treat. The gravy of the chicken curry replete with the quintessential Maharashtrian goda masala was tantalising for the taste buds.

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A bhakri with mutton curry came next and was home style all the way. The food here struck me as home made with no restaurant-like flavours. The masalas were authentic, freshly ground and the resultant curries and gravies were lip-smacking. From the mildly spiced to the fiery hot, there was something for every palate. The refreshing sol kadi helped me to wash down many a spicy dish.

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For dessert, there could be nothing better than savouring the king of fruits, hapus or alphonso, freshly cut and sliced and served with a dollop of ice cream.

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Having savoured some iconic dishes from across Maharashtra, there was an explosion of flavours in my palate, but all pleasing of course.

I could not help laud the efforts of Chef Sagar Satam who spearheaded this festival with an able team under the aegis of Chef Thampy. The touch of authenticity to these Maharashtrian flavours from home is what set this food apart.

On for dinner only till May 14, do not miss the opportunity to relish the flavours of Maharashtra at this Festival. And with cyclic menus on offer, trust me there is no question of monotony even if you land up here every other day.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

At home,with home-style Vegetarian food : Gokul9

Gokul is a name many of us in Mumbai are familiar with. A place in Colaba which has been around for decades and is known to be a hotspot for good quality and wholesome, Mangalorean food and drinks.

Dinesh Pujary and Vandana, the son and daughter of Mr. Jaya Pujary, the founder of Gokul, have started Gokul 9 a small, but cosy vegetarian eatery in the adjacent lane.

The place is colourful, has vibrant and aesthetically done interiors and spells comfort from word go. The menu is exhaustive and one is spoiled for choice.

While there is a large section of South Indian delicacies, there is comfort food galore- soups, burgers, pav bhaji, sandwiches, pizza, and even a thali. There is something for every palate and age group.

The South Indian food here is unarguably the piece de resistance. The aromatic hing in the piping hot sambhar wafts through the air even before you taste a spoonful. The flavours are spot on and the chutney is comforting as it is replete withe home style flavours. Palak dosa, cheese bhaji dosa, butter spring dosa, are worth a try as these are innovative albeit with a traditional touch. The masala dosa of course is the all time winner on the menu.

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The cheese khada pav bhaji is indulgence personified and not-to-be-missed. The Mumbai Special section with favourites like sabudana khichdi and misal pav will make you nostalgic.

Among starters, the mushroom manchurian and soya bean chilli dry, are unique. For those seeking  a quick bite, sandwiches, burgers, pizza options abound.

Office goers throng to satiate themselves with the value-for-money thali. Rotis, rice, Indian gravies, Chinese dishes, too find a place on this varied menu.

Round off your sumptuous meal with a refreshing and creamy kulfi.

No alcohol here of course but juices and milkshakes aplenty to choose from.

The food here is fresh, made with good quality ingredients and easy on the stomach and wallet. Nothing causes discomfort and uneasiness. The kitchen appears squeaky clean and hygienic.

The service staff is warm, polite and alert. One literally feels at home here. I left with a smile of satisfaction.

Rating : 4/5

 

Dastarkhwan par excellence at Kangan

 

Indian food when dining out is usually my last choice, even though, I am passionate about the flavours of Indian food of every region. It is the greasy curries, oily biryanis, heavy kababs that scare me. Else, Indian food is food for my soul and I relish its flavours with pride. But home cooked food Indian food is what I hanker after.

A new menu tasting session with Chef Mohamed Danish, the new Chef de cuisine at Kangan, Westin Mumbai Garden City, sounded exciting and naturally the gourmand and writer in me wanted to explore it, so I set out, albeit with a bit of trepidation.

Chef Danish, I learnt, is a Lucknow born and bred Chef and naturally then, his culinary legacy is rich and varied. Of a pleasant demeanour, soft spoken and extremely confident of his food and skills, he demonstrated that in ample measure over a lunch experience that spanned three hours. No, it was not only about endless dishes, but conversations and stories around the food that made time simply fly and kept us engrossed.

Awadhi cuisine was what we were primarily being treated to, as those are the highlights of the new menu, which will of course contain other dishes too, to wow many a palate for dinner.

The culinary gems one can expect in an Awadhi meal are unmatched, especially delectable meat dishes including biryani, Nalli nihari, kakori kababs and more.

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Greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, Awadhi food bears similarities to the cuisines of Persia, Kashmir and Hyderabad. The richness of Awadhi cuisine also lies in liberal use of ingredients like mutton, paneer and rich spices including mace, cardamom and saffron.

Slow cooking with the finest ingredients, magically bound together, is the cooking style that is popular and Chef Danish strictly adhered to that.

Some of the major spices that go into the legendary spice mixes in this cuisine are – black and green cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, black peppercorns, cumin, nutmeg, mace and cloves. The rakabdars or gourmet cooks, had their spice mixes, which were a closely guarded secret. In the past, all these spices were added in proportions that were easy on the stomach.  Meat typically used to be marinated in curd and spices. This helped to soften the taste and texture, as well as remove any strong odours.

Innovation was constant in the kitchens, as Nawabs were very easily bored and thus demanded constant innovation from their cooks, who obliged. Chef Danish seems to have inherited this trait as he is inventive to the extent of experimenting without altering the classics.

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We started with the aromatic and creamy, Murg zafrani shorba, but sans any cream. Flavourful as it was slow-cooked, it boasted of spices and the caramelised onions imparted a unique flavour.

 

The Kangan tandoori chicken came next, with a lot of fanfare, being served to us fresh on our table. The aromas wafted through the air and made us hungrier, than we were. A bite into it and the smoky and well-balanced flavours, wowed my palate.

 

The refreshing lemon grass shikanji, I thought was an apt and interesting combination for this summer heat and refreshing, as nothing else.

The Kakori kabab was one of the best ever, as it was completely melt-in-the-mouth, well-spiced and yet, nothing overpowering.

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The dudhiya kabab made with grated paneer and dry spices, was for me, the piece de resistance. The melange of textures and flavours, so distinct, set it apart. I had never tasted anything like this before. Carnivores would gladly give up meat if this is served to them. The vegetarian variety on the new menu is abundant. The firdausi bharwaan aloo is equally a palate pleaser.

Each dish looked as good as it tasted, as Chef Danish displayed his mastery over his craft. The andaaz of balancing the spices in this cuisine is an art and intrinsic to the flavours and Chef Danish has got it right.

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For mains, we sampled the quintessential favourite – dal Kangan, murgh Begmati, nalli nihari, murg Jahaangiri raan, papad and sev ka paratha, multigrain roti and more. The fragrant gucchi pulao with stuffed morels was an unparalleled treat. For once, with a heavy heart, I skipped the biryani.

We rounded off our meal with the delectable shahi tukda, made with in-house saffron infused bread.

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In keeping with the Lucknawi tehzeeb and adab, none of the dishes had whole spices that one needed to remove. Apparently, that is how the Nawabs liked it – well-spiced food, prepared with a plethora of spices, but all removed after the cooking process before being served.

Having tried multiple dishes, albeit small tasting portions, I did not experience the discomfort and uneasiness I was anticipating. That itself was the acid test for me. Quite literally.

It was an enjoyable afternoon, where humne shauq farmaya, and we experienced lazeez food with lajawaab hospitality. Oops! I am beginning to sound Lucknawi is it? That is was this food and culture does to you, I guess.

If you remotely love Indian food, this new menu at Kangan, is a must try. Allow Chef Danish’s culinary treats to pamper your taste buds.

Rating : 4/5

 

Tantalising flavours at Timpani

Timpani, the all day dining place at Radisson Blu Ahmedabad during my recent visit took me by surprise. Warm, vibrant and cheerful. This place was bustling at all hours.

A multi-cuisine dining place, the offerings across cuisines were varied and catered to every palate. The special emphasis on local food at all meals was something that impressed me.

Breakfast had an array of items to choose from- Pan Asian, Indian and global fare. The live counters with dosas and eggs with chefs serving these a la minute were a treat to watch.

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The local Gujarati counter with farsan, moong dal chilla, moong dal halwa, patra, etc was something most out station guests, including me made a beeline for.

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The food was of great quality and the ingredients, undoubtedly fresh. Noodles, cereal, fruits, idli, poha, sabudana vada, sausages, baked beans, there were a plethora of options. Timpani serves delicious buffets at each meal, as well as an abundance of à la carte choices on the restaurant’s menu.

The moong dal chilla with chutney got my vote instantly. The sabudana vada was similar to the one at home and the eggs of course were made to perfection. A range of fresh juices and tea, coffee was what one could choose from.

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The service was equally impeccable with the staff being alert and attentive.

The natural light filtering in and the bright ambience adds to the charm of this place.

Executive Chef Chetak Goyal and his team ensure everyone leaves Timpani with a smile of satisfaction. I sure did.

Food meets films in vibrant ambience

Which one of us does not love and cherish the film Sholay? Most of us I think, do. Naturally then, when a restaurant is named after one of the famed characters of this iconic film, the intrigue factor heightens. Basanti and Co. in Seven Bungalows Andheri West thus beckoned me.

The colourful interiors, trendy decor and cheerful vibe, set the tome of our evening. The bric-a-brac and design elements thrown in appealed to me instantly. The seating area is spacious and the bar in one corner, eclectic.

The menu offered Awadhi and North Indian food with a special section of Chef Qureshi’s signature Biryanis. Yes, another chef from the famed Qureshi family.

The service staff seemed articulate and alert. Roy, serving us was well-spoken and well-informed about the menu too.

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Murg Badam shorba, is what we started with and the creamy soul was comforting. The hint of saffron and the crunch owing to the almonds seamless meshed with the creamy thick broth. There were chaats too on offer but we decided to skip those.

Murg Tikka Patiala was well marinated and grilled to perfection. The smoky flavours were apparent in each bite. The Dahi ke kabab however stole the thunder. Well-made, these were soft, tangy and wholesome.

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For mains, we ordered the makki ki roti and sarson ka saag with a lassoni addition. Did not work for me at all. The saag was far from the real thing. The Punjabi choley with mini lulchas, were robust and delightful. The Nalli Nihari was the star of the show. The pronounced flavours of mutton in a well-spiced gravy and soft well-cooked pieces of mutton and of course the nihari was an absolute treat. Chicken Tariwala too was a preparation which tingled our taste buds.

The assorted rotis were the perfect accompaniment- garlic naan, missi roti, makki ki roti and tandoori roti. The lamb kulcha sounded enticing too.

The dessert options were strangely limited. Jalebi rabdi and malai phirni was all they offered. Both were strictly mediocre as the textures were far from authentic. The phirni lacked the quintessential grainy texture and bite and was too pasty, whereas the rabdi was cloyingly sweet and again of a overly creamy texture. The crisp and well-fried jalebis got my instant vote though.

The thandai shot at the end of our meal was mild but served the purpose of an after-meal digestive.

This place offers an exhaustive variety -both food and the bar menu. Vegetarians need not fret as there are abundant options. The portions too are hearty and perfect for a family meal. The food is well-presented but sans any unnecessary frills.

We missed trying the biryani and in order to remedy that, I need to make a second trip to Basanti and Co.

Open for lunch and dinner, a meal for two without alcohol is approx Rs 1500.

Rating : 3.5/5

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.