Thursday, November 27, 2008
The diner looks like an informal club. Of hats and scarves and chitter and chatter. Bacon eggs and pancake batter.One of them had a rather stern lady chef feverishly tossing out quiche and omelette, to pen down her impatience with our giggly indecision.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
It didn't take us long to debate over the main course - the menu is short and we were squished between enough patrons to peek at what they were eating and decide what looked good. One of our companions, Kishore, immediately said that he was having the "usal" which is any preparation made out of sprouts. He was referring to the "dalimbichi usal" which was a gravy, again coconut milk based, made out of sprouted field beans. They are also called "vaal". They have a slightly bitter taste, which is what makes them stand apart rather than jar on the senses. The gravy was creamy and the beans were just cooked right, just like home. I half expected them to be soggy from having been made many many hours ago. Though the beans were bitter, the gravy was sweet and eating it was pure fantasy for those with the acquired taste. We also ordered a batata bhaji which is a potato preparation without a gravy - tempering chopped potatoes with mustard, cumin, green chillies, curry leaves and garnishing it with freshly grated coconut and corriander, with a lemon wedge to suit your tastebuds. Enjoyable, but standard.
To wash it down, we didn't have the option of cold drinks, but Kishore insisted that I try the Piyush, which he told me was a kind of Maharashtrian Lassi. Piyush is yoghurt based, like a lot of Indian drinks. The yellow tinge comes from the use of saffron, and the drink was cold and its sweetness and the flavours of jaiphal (nutmeg) and elaichi (cardamom) were a brilliant end to this meal. For dessert I had actually opted for Dudhi Halva which was slightly disappointing.
In conclusion - if you are in Mumbai and if you want to do the whole foodie binge, write Prakash in bold and make sure you get to Gokhale Road and have a meal there.
Don't let ideology stand in the way of fine cuisine!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Noor Mohammadi Hotel has been known for decades for its quality of food, though many a prospective patron would find the ambiance slightly lacking, especially when compared to its extravagant neighbour, Shalimar. Nevertheless, the Noor Mohammadi Hotel has its loyalists who make sure the highly divine Nalli Nihari (a rich gravy dish featuring tender mutton and loads of bone marrow) disappears by 9am every day. Celebrities including most of the Khan boys order from here with a vengeance and Sanjay Dutt struck up such a rapport with the owners that one of their signature dishes, Chicken Sanju Baba, is a result of some recipe sharing from the superstar's home cauldron.
(Courtesy the Noor Mohammadi Website)
What does this have to do with a mall food court? Well, if you want the good stuff but don't want to deal with the Bhendi Bazaar/LJ Road traffic, have no fear. Hakim's is "Haute Moghlai Cuisine" (oh yeah, baby) from the house of Noor Mohammedi, as I found out when I confronted the cashier.
"We get the food from there only, madam. We don't cook anything here except the kababs."
He obviously knew what I needed to hear.
So I packed up a Chicken Sanju Baba and a Roomali Roti for dinner. Bombay Foodies are obliged to have Chicken Sanju Baba on their "to do" list, and I needed to score a tick off.
Chicken Sanju Baba has earned its share of hype and prominence, particularly when the owners of Noor Mohammedi cooked and distributed vats of the dish to the poor every day during the pendency of Sanju Baba's bail application before the Supreme Court. However, it doesn't make for a mindblowing food experience, something which even the owners silently acknowledge by not mentioning the dish on their website. I excitedly unpacked the plastic container to find a gravy of a slightly waxy consistency. Puzzled, I popped it in the microwave, and one minute later I discovered why - there was a layer of pure desi ghee, now liquefied, on top of the gravy. Tough pieces of chicken swim in a thin gravy populated by sliced onion and a large number of red chillies, which is highly misleading, as the product is pretty bland. It does have an interesting tartness, but in the end it's a rather amateur piece of cookery which does no justice to the legend that is Hotel Noor Mohammadi.
One day, however, I am going to wake up early and take the Harbour Line to Dockyard Road and trudge over to Noor Mohammadi, and get me the grub that has tantalized patrons for 110 years. The description is on their website which I have no reason to disbelieve (except for the part about the Pepsi):
You can eat anywhere but for authentic "nalli-nahari"you have to visit Noor Mohammedi.It is very tender and just melts in your mouth.You'll have to go early, the nalli nihari finishes by 9 a.m., even earlier. Cooked on slow coal fire for 12 hours, till it becomes so tender that a toothless customer can eat it. That is the boast of Mr. Khalid Hakim, proprietor of the restaurant, and it is not an empty boast. It is just meat, boneless, one nice chunk of it. And it comes with a spicy gravy, quite sharp with garam masala and pepper. In the gravy, somewhat thick, you will spot bits of nalli, eat it fast, before it melts. Order a fresh roti, a tandoori, or a softer chapatti, 100 gms., weigh it in your hand, feel the weight. Dip the roti in the gravy, break the meat with a spoon, and eat. Yes, it is spicy, for your Bombay palate, that is. But if you are from Northern part of India, you will eat it with a sort of a pickle. A combination of thin strips of ginger and chopped green chillis. They call it nihari ka masala, and it is put on the table in front of you. Help yourself to it. One warning, if you find it too spicy, don't drink the water. Order a Pepsi instead. Who drinks Pepsi at breakfast? Those who eat nalli nihari and kheema roti at breakfast.Most of the food is available throughout the day, but for nalli nihari and paya it is early morning and late evening.
Ambiance may be one thing, but wolfing down a dish which celebrates the delicious bone marrow of mutton, is quite another. My sister and I still fight over who gets the 'soo soo bone', as it is refered to in my family, coined on account of the sound one is forced to make while extracting the tantalizing mass from the back of a highly unco-operative marrow bone.
While Noor Mohammadi is at Mahim and Bhendi Bazaar, Hakim's Haute Moghlai Cuisine can be found at the City Centre Mall, Bombay Central, and the Inorbit Mall, Malad.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The other dead animal menu that corroborated my thoughts on Bangalore meat-eating cultures is at the Windsor Pub. An excellent brain and onion fry. And a beef fry (which is sort of lie alu bhruji in beef, super) and the fish fry and the keema something.The liver preparation with too much curry patta was a disappointment but can be washed down with beer. Like Mojo, Windsor (potted in a deceptively un-pub building next to some Bank, near Cantonment Station, off Miller's Road)is home to the boxer-peeping, headswingingtotheDoors, ponytailed boys as well as some Kannadiga moustached macho men.
Meat-eating in Bangalore is definitely recommended to indiscriminate meat-eaters.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
What is interesting other than the fact that it serves chai-coffee and alcohol under the same roof is its food menu. You get a a most gratifying prawn-curry-rice and beef-curry-rice here. And an interesting mushroom toast (saute'd mushroom and onion on bread). And the typical alcohol accompaniments like french fries and gobi machurian. With a distinctly Mallu fragrance, it also carries the stamp of the old lackadaisical Bangalore of endless ups of coffee.
It is a rare one-size-fits-all place. You could have breakfast here, and lunch, and tea and finish with rounds of beer. You could go for a date, a work-meeting, an old-friends-catchup, a quiet solitary read. Bang opposite the new Hard Rock Cafe, Koshy's stands at one end of St. Mark's Road in solemn fortitude.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I could go on about Zalgirious, but I'll restrict myself to the pictures I have. And I will leave you with some nice dessert. This wheat thingie with a creamy filling is called the Napolean snack.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Flavoured with saffron and what else, and embellished with all manner of seafood including prawn and mussel, I was told that that the bit of ever-so-slightly burnt rice sticking to the metallic pan in which it is cooked (and served) is considered a delicacy.
The meal started with some nice ham served on melon, but it paled into insignificance as soon as the paella appeared and invaded the senses with its colour and aroma.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
...Foodie. Oh sweet Jebus and all the other super best friends can anyone save us from foodies? There are people who go out for dinner who can tell if the meal is good or bad. Then there are people who appreciate good food and can tell the difference between sea bass and sea bream and can pronounce everything on the menu properly. Then there are the foodies. They can name the farm the meat came from. They know the captain of the boat that caught the fish. They know which fucking field the kale was grown in. Fuck they know what kale is! They talk about the scene in Tokyo or New York right now and drop names, first names, of celebrity chefs like they were personal friends. The foodie is always middle class. They have a vegetable patch in their garden that they never shut the fuck up about and no meal would be complete without them telling you about the simply gorgeous salad they made the day before. They are bores. Talk about sucking the very life out of something that should be enjoyed not made into a chemistry class. I love my food, hell given the chance I would love yours too but lets keep things in perspective. I'm sure Gordon would agree.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
For someone like me with limited entries on the passport, it was shocking how much the humble bread can augment your meal. But even the better heeled companions insist it has something to do with the Baltic weather and agriculture.
I had the soup at the Cili Kaimas on Pilies, part of the Cili empire one sees all over Vilnius. Watch out for twin stewardesses Aliona and Margarita.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Maa Taara is a large canteenesque hall in a basement. With Mashimas, Boudis, Poltus,Tutukis, Dilli arty kids looking for subaltern food, Cal artsies looking to simulate Ghar ka Khana. The specials on the day are mapped in bold bengali letters at the back. It is presumed you know the script when you walk in. The menu shows up names of myriad fresh-water fish other than rui, ilish (hilsa), chingri (prawn). You will be familiar with the full range only if you have been brought up in a predominantly fish-eating family. Which I am. So I knew the jargon. And felt very jingo and in-the-loop, especially in the company of my Cosmopolitan Bong friend, who knew nothing.
We went there once last week, and had tried Tangra Maach and Muri ghonto. With alu bhaja (potato chips basically). The main courses were greasy and spicy. Ghar ki yaad aane wali types.
We returned to prove our loyalties, last night. And ate prawn malaikaari.
The food evoked a particularly Bong relaxed afterburp sensation. Like the cares of the world became more trivial.
It's also easy on the pocket. If a no-frills eating place is your thing, and you yearn for fish sometimes, go there. Preferably, take a Bong along. I am wondering if I should go tonight as well.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Having hardly spent two days in Vilnius, it is difficult to proclaim with any confidence that Torres is the best place in the city for an afternoon beer. What I can say is this: if there is another place in the city that can do this and more, I will be a very happy man.
It is not about the quality of the food or the excellence of their beer. Good, no doubt, but what gets Torres my certificate, is simply their real estate and the extreme relaxation one feels in sitting under the sun with a beer, contamplating the wonderful view of the parks and woods and streams and what not. I needed constant reminding that I was still in the middle of a capital city.
I had never had fish in any non-cooked state previously, but any apprehension that I had vanished soon after I placed the first morsel in my mouth. Forget the smell, forget the lack of spicy embellishment, it is all about the fresh taste and smooth texture - served with cheese and olives. Someone like me would find it difficult to appreciate any culinary dexterity in it, because the dish never appeared to be more than the sum of its parts. But I guess it was a leap I was not adventurous enough to make. Perhaps my continuing love-hate affair with European cuisine also played a role. Best enjoyed with Svyturys. Of course.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
One of Bombay's newest hotspots, C.G. 83, is Nelson Wang's resurrection of his own famed China Garden of yesteryears, the hub of celebrities who loved their Chinese. Unfortuntely Chin Garden faced the wrath of illegal constructions. In its new avtaar, C.G. 83, located at Om Chambers on Kemp's Corner, is the new "in" place for Chinese.
At our quaint table for two, we get off to a bad start with an Ivy Zinfandel which tasted more like Vinegar. Once we were reassured with two glasses of Sula Chenin Blanc, we asked for a starter of Red Pepper Chicken. The delicately moist chicken was fiery and well marinated, but our head waiter was not amused. He admonished the steward attending to us: "Why have you got them full portions?"
To our surprise, the "half plate" concept was not limited only to oily biriyanis. C.G. 83 have recognized the importance of not inflicting singles or couples with the arduous task of getting through entire portions of meals. Being a single or even two diners means that your ability to sample different dishes goes down drastically, and any attempt to order a vast array often leads to a very big doggy bag accompanying you out of the restaurant. Yahoo!
Enthused, we ordered a "half portion" of ginger fried squid (thick slices of squid batter fried and lightly spiced) and some prawn wafers (which were very different than the white puffs with pink rims that you usually find in restaurants and/or big bazaar). The Kimchi on the table (we had eaten two plates in just-got-outta-office hunger) and the Chicken had stuffed us up (it was so good that we really didn't mind) and so we moved straight to a dessert of honey fried noodles with vanilla ice cream, which was perfect in every way, especially the size (the full portion is absolutely huge).
Reasonably priced by Mumbai (and Malabar Hill) standards and especially for the outstanding food, C.G. 83 is a must visit on the Mumbai foodie itinerary. Reservations are recommended.
PS: Sorry for the lack of photographs. My N72 has met an untimely end at the hands of opportunistic pickpocketers. :(
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
You need 500gm boneless chicken according to the packet, we took about 250 gms boneless Godrej Real Good Chicken, cut into small pieces. Tip: Take 'mixed boneless' over the breast boneless - its much more flavourful.
Add the packet masala, which looks like a dry paste, to the chicken. It's best done with an hour of time for marination. Remember that the masala has all the required spices and salt so be a little circumspect in adding ingredients.
It may be instant, but you need a few helping hands - one being 100gm of fresh curd. Make sure it isn't very sour.
Now that the masala and curd have been added, use your hands and knead the chicken and its masalas to make a good marinade. Remember to break up the lumps of Masala.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Along with some fresh beef, chicken, squid, and apologies to the purists - but even pork salami and sausages!
Never to miss an opportunity, I load my bowl with prawns and get going
And voila! I opted for a mix of Korean BBQ sauce and some peanut and fresh corriander. Its unlimited helpings, and so a friendly piece of advice is to take small helpings, dabble with the range of sauces and avoid the noodles/rice to keep more room for experimentation (and the carbs off!).
Besides the VFM factor, the location and the thrill of the whole process, ASF also has separate utensils and bowls for its vegetarian patrons, a highly recommended a la carte menu for the lazy ones, great drinks and cheekily worded fortune cookies to end your meal.
Puneites - there's a branch at E Square too! Rejoice!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
New Friends Colony is not without its share of meaty and Muslim cuisine, but Al Bake stands out, and so does its shawarma - demand is so high that there is a brand new Al Bake, barely twenty metres from the old one. Bowing to the demand, Al Bake also sells shawarmas to go in a packet containing four hot ones, selling for hundred rupees. Very often, that is the prudent idea as seating is hard to find once the sun begins its slow descent.
College goers are proud of their shawarma records. I've heard someone brag about seventeen of them at one go. With the lightly spiced chutney to go along, that record cannot have lasted too long.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
The Shark is fresh, and is soft and slides off the bone easily to melt in my mouth. The Gravy was alive with spices. Unfortunately, the two of them didn't really match. The Shark had been cooked separately and dunked into the standard gassi, which did not have anything fishy about it.
I focused on the shark and occasionally dabbed my appam in the curry. The Appam arrived at my table soft and a little deflated. In case Appams aren't your scene, you can have your gassi with rice, or a neer dosa.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
In Bangalore, the gobi manchurian is highly popular and you find it in all the darsinis that are otherwise restricted to pure South Indian specialties of the idli-vada-dosa-sambar variety. In Delhi too, in most nooks and just about every cranny, there is a man (usually) selling Singaporean noodles and hawking Hakka noodles. I have devoured these oily delights by the kilo, and are excellent with your evening poison.
Little Dragon is a small red-coloured stall/vehicle in Defence Colony. A range of soups that take their taste positions between the two extremes of sweet corn chicken and hot and sour chicken, and a similar array of oily noodles and rice. It is very cheap for a Defence Colony gaddi and offers you the options of half-plates and half-soups. They have a regular lunch crowd that congregates around it by one from offices located around Defence Colony.
Do you know of any Shady Chinese delights? Feel free to share your experiences.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Onion Pakodas, or Kanda Bhajiyas, are certainly one of the more popular varieties. Onions are sliced finely, and sprinkled generously with besan, salt, red chili powder, roughly pounded coriander seeds and cumin seeds, and just enough water to make the batter cling to the slices of onion. When batches of the batter are dropped into the hot oil, the slices of onion 'blossom', and each layer separates while still remaining joined by the stem portion and the batter. The Bhajiyas are popularly known as 'Khekhda' or Crab Bhajiyas on account of their uncanny resemblance to the crustacean.
With Mumbai temperatures dropping to 6 degrees last month, on a nippy Monday morning I warmed up with a plate of Khekhda Bhajiyas and Special Chai at Madhavashram, located right behind the Girgaum Court, Opposite Harkishandas Hospital. The spartan eatery serves up some of Mumbai's best hot crisy pakodas along with other Mumbai tea time favourites, all day long.