Archive for February 2007

Shrewsbury

February 25, 2007

SHREWSBURY BISCUIT FROM KAYANI BAKERY(My Favourite Midnight Treat)ByVIKRAM KARVE   It’s almost midnight and I’m sitting in glorious solitude on my favourite sofa in the living room watching a film on TV. Wife and kids are fast asleep inside; only my pet dog Sherry lies curled up fast asleep on her “bed” near the door. I tiptoe to the kitchen, pull out a tin from its secret hiding place, open it, take out my favourite midnight snack, and walk back to my sofa. I have in front of me a Shrewsbury Biscuit from Kayani Bakery. I look at it. Embossed is the emblem of Kayani Bakery with the words Shrewsbury Kayani Bakery written all around. I smell it. Yes, I discern that unique aroma – the first test of a genuine Shrewsbury. I take a bite. Crunchy, crisp, scrumptious – words cannot describe the tempting taste, delectable lively flavor and delightful sensation as the Shrewsbury Biscuit dissolves in my mouth. A Shrewsbury Biscuit entices you, perks you up and leaves a superb ambrosial aftertaste, which tantalizingly lingers on your tongue for a long long time. That is why you should never have tea, coffee, or anything else with Shrewsbury Biscuits. It will spoil the heavenly experience. I’ve seen people hurriedly washing it down with tea, even dipping the revered biscuit in their tea – sacrilege! Sit quietly in solitude, focus your attention, stimulate your tastebuds, and mindfully savor the Shrewsbury. Absorb all its distinctive characteristics – the taste, the flavour, the fragrance – in their entirety, till you experience sheer bliss. Relishing a Shrewsbury is similar to enjoying a good wine – you lovingly admire it, caress it, air it a bit, imbibe its fruity aroma, lovingly nurture it in your mouth, then thoroughly relish it, and, finally, rejoice in the glorious aftertaste, and you will feel stimulated to a higher plane of inner joy. As compared to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta, Lucknow, and many other places, Pune is way behind as a Foodie destination. But there are some delights for which Pune is famous, and which you don’t get anywhere else. Like Kayani Bakery’s Shrewsbury Biscuit – it’s superb, unique, matchless, delicious – I don’t think you get anything like it anywhere else in India, or, maybe, in the world! There are many imitators, claiming to be Shrewsbury, but genuine Kayani’s is truly supreme. No doubt about it. If you’re dying for an authentic Shrewsbury Biscuit, you’ll have to come to Pune!  Dear fellow Foodie. The next time you’re in Pune, after you treat yourself to Shrewsbury from Kayani on East Street, don’t forget Chitale’s Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi, Laxminarayan Chiwda, Budhani’s Wafers, Dorabjee’s Biryani, Kayani’s Chocolate Walnut Cake, Marzorin’s Rolls and Sandwiches, Hindustan Bakery’s Patties, Shreyas Maharashtrian Thali, Kawre’s Mastani, and genuine authentic Bhel (not the imitation pseudo bhel they concoct at Chowpatty!). Ironic, isn’t it? The way Bhel is associated with Chowpatty! But then, you get the best “Puneri” Misal in Mumbai, don’t you?

   VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com   

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Biritannia Cafe Mumbai for Berry Pulao

February 23, 2007

BERRY PULAO

by

VIKRAM KARVE

 I’m feeling good. It’s four in the evening and I’ve just polished off a delicious Berry Pulao in Pune. Words cannot describe my state of supreme ambrosial contentment and blissful non-alcoholic intoxication as I sit down to write this for you. Berry Pulao in Pune? Not possible! There’s only one place in India where you get Berry Pulao and that’s Britannia Restaurant in Ballard Estate Mumbai. I read somewhere – Busybee, I think, who wrote – “If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia”. That’s right. The Berry Pulao I relished just a few moments ago, was indeed from the one and only Britannia – my friend Sanjiv just drove down from Mumbai with a Mutton Berry Pulao nicely packed in Britannia’s containers with the restaurant’s motto written on top: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”. Dear fellow Foodie – if you’ve eaten and relished Berry Pulao at Britannia, my words will not be adequate to describe the unique gastronomic experience you’ve had. If you haven’t, read on. The Mutton Berry Pulao looks good. A base of aromatic yellowish-orange basmati rice, topped with kababs, crisp reddish-brown strips of fried onions, fried cashew nuts, and, of course, the dark red berries. I start of with a tiny sweet and sour berry to stimulate my tongue and then pick out a kabab from the top layer of the pulao, pop it on my tongue, close mouth and my eyes, press the soft meat between my tongue and palate, roll it, let it disintegrate and savor the heavenly flavor; my appetite whetted, I feel so ravenous, that I just can’t wait to devour the delicacy in front of me. But I am not going to “devour” the pulao greedily, but do full justice to my favorite pulao by eating it mindfully. “Mindful eating”: that’s the art of eating, with all your senses fully focused inwards to derive total epicurean pleasure.  The mutton, the kababs as well as the generous chunks of well marinated and superbly cooked pieces of prime meat, is boneless. The mouthwatering succulent pieces of mutton, substantial in size, are soft and tender, and taste delicious and satisfying. The soft spicy kababs are nice and zesty. The basmati rice is fragrant and tasty. The cashew nuts crisp. And, of course, the sweetish taste of the fried onions combining with the sweet and sour tang of the berries. The berry pulao is indeed a heavenly medley of the choice ingredients, blending the symbiosis of tastes, fusion of flavors and bouquet of fragrances. In its entirety, relishing a Berry Pulao is a matchless epicurean experience. Britannia’s Berry Pulao is par excellence – a supreme feast you will never forget.  Many a greasy and spicy “Biryanis” and “Pulaos” leave you feeling heavy, acidic in the stomach, hot and bitterish in your throat, and with a tartish feeling on your tongue. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating; the proof of a pulao or biryani is in its aftertaste. It’s that lovely wispy aftertaste that makes Berry Pulao my favorite. Maybe that’s the secret of the “berries”. Dear fellow Foodie. What are you waiting for? If you are in Mumbai, head for Britannia and have a hearty lunch. (It closes in the evenings, I think). When I was in Mumbai, I’ve had many a “working lunches” there as I worked nearby. [The only thing I “worked” on during those lunches was my food!]. I’ve never heard of a crazier oxymoron than “Working Lunch”! Now I have to depend on friends likes Sanjiv to drop a berry pulao at my house in Pune on their way back during their frequent drives to Mumbai. And if you are not in Mumbai, make sure you visit Britannia for lunch the next time you’re there. Till then keep reading this and enjoy this delectable dish vicariously in your mind’s eye. By the way, can someone tell us the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao? Of course, I know the answer – just trying to cross-check! Till next time, Happy Eating! 

VIKRAM KARVE

 vikramkarve@sify.com 

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com       

Samovar

February 23, 2007

A Relaxed Lunch in Arty Ambiance

By

Vikram Karve

  

When I was a small boy I traveled all over the country by train, and I remember many trains like The Calcutta Mail via Nagpur, The Frontier Mail, The Grand Trunk Express, and even the Deccan Queen, had Restaurant or Dining Cars where one could sit comfortably and enjoy leisurely meals comprising the choicest “railway cuisine” whilst viewing the scenery passing by through the large open windows. Each train had its own special a la carte dishes apart from the thalis. One can’t enjoy this luxury anymore as the railways have replaced Dining Cars with Pantry Cars and they serve lackluster standard meals packed in foil, paper and plastic containers.

 

On a warm Mumbai afternoon I feel nostalgic and remember the good old railway dining car lunches, and I am in a mood for a relaxed lunch in arty ambiance, so I convince my friend and we head for Samovar at the Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda near the Museum. Samovar restaurant is situated next to the art gallery in a long rectangular veranda and resembles a Railway Restaurant Car of yesteryear. We relax on the cane chairs and enjoy the view of the adjoining Museum lawns.

 

There is a menu card, but the specialties of the day are scribbled on blackboards on both ends of the no-frills eatery. We order the specialties of the day – a Mutton Chilly Fry Lunch and Hyderabadi Kheema with Lachi Paratha. The tender boneless Mutton Chilly Fry well cooked in a thick dark brown sauce has a nice spicy peppery taste and blends well with the garlic bread and fresh salad. The fiery orange-red chilli-sour Hyderabadi Kheema is lip-smackingly zesty, the paratha super-soft and fluffy, and the combination is delicious.

 

Next we have the wholesome stuffed parathas [Gobi (Cauliflower) and Kheema] accompanied by their appetizing chutneys followed by Kheema and Kabab Rolls. To cool off, we end with the huge soothing Dahi Wadas. I’m tempted to order a biryani or a prawn pulao, but we’re nicely satiated and overeating will spoil everything – maybe we’ll try the rice dishes next time.

 

Samovar has a unique charm and friendly ambience you won’t find anywhere else. It serves excellent value-for-money food and is an ideal place for a cosy tete-a-tete with a friend over a leisurely lunch on a lazy afternoon.

  

VIKRAM KARVE

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

Berry Pulao

February 23, 2007

Berry Pulao at Britannia

by

Vikram Karve

   

 

I’m feeling good. It’s four in the evening and I’ve just polished off a delicious Berry Pulao in Pune. Words cannot describe my state of supreme ambrosial contentment and blissful non-alcoholic intoxication as I sit down to write this for you.

Berry Pulao in Pune? Not possible! There’s only one place in India where you get Berry Pulao and that’s Britannia Restaurant in Ballard Estate Mumbai. I read somewhere – Busybee, I think, who wrote – “If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia”.

That’s right. The Berry Pulao I relished just a few moments ago, was indeed from the one and only Britannia – my friend Sanjiv just drove down from Mumbai with a Mutton Berry Pulao nicely packed in Britannia’s containers with the restaurant’s motto written on top: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”.

Dear fellow Foodie – if you’ve eaten and relished Berry Pulao at Britannia, my words will not be adequate to describe the unique gastronomic experience you’ve had. If you haven’t, read on.

The Mutton Berry Pulao looks good. A base of aromatic yellowish-orange basmati rice, topped with kababs, crisp reddish-brown strips of fried onions, fried cashew nuts, and, of course, the dark red berries. I start of with a tiny sweet and sour berry to stimulate my tongue and then pick out a kabab from the top layer of the pulao, pop it on my tongue, close mouth and my eyes, press the soft meat between my tongue and palate, roll it, let it disintegrate and savor the heavenly flavor; my appetite whetted, I feel so ravenous, that I just can’t wait to devour the delicacy in front of me. But I am not going to “devour” the pulao greedily, but do full justice to my favorite pulao by eating it mindfully. “Mindful eating”: that’s the art of eating, with all your senses fully focused inwards to derive total epicurean pleasure.

The mutton, the kababs as well as the generous chunks of well marinated and superbly cooked pieces of prime meat, is boneless. The mouthwatering succulent pieces of mutton, substantial in size, are soft and tender, and taste delicious and satisfying. The soft spicy kababs are nice and zesty. The basmati rice is fragrant and tasty. The cashew nuts crisp. And, of course, the sweetish taste of the fried onions combining with the sweet and sour tang of the berries. The berry pulao is indeed a heavenly medley of the choice ingredients, blending the symbiosis of tastes, fusion of flavors and bouquet of fragrances. In its entirety, relishing a Berry Pulao is a matchless epicurean experience. Britannia’s Berry Pulao is par excellence – a supreme feast you will never forget.

Many a greasy and spicy “Biryanis” and “Pulaos” leave you feeling heavy, acidic in the stomach, hot and bitterish in your throat, and with a tartish feeling on your tongue.

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating; the proof of a pulao or biryani is in its aftertaste. It’s that lovely wispy aftertaste that makes Berry Pulao my favorite. Maybe that’s the secret of the “berries”.

Dear fellow Foodie. What are you waiting for? If you are in Mumbai, head for Britannia and have a hearty lunch. (It closes in the evenings, I think). When I was in Mumbai, I’ve had many a “working lunches” there as I worked nearby. [The only thing I “worked” on during those lunches was my food!]. I’ve never heard of a crazier oxymoron than “Working Lunch”!

Now I have to depend on friends likes Sanjiv to drop a berry pulao at my house in Pune on their way back during their frequent drives to Mumbai. And if you are not in Mumbai, make sure you visit Britannia for lunch the next time you’re there. Till then keep reading this and enjoy this delectable dish vicariously in your mind’s eye.

By the way, can someone tell us the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao?

Of course, I know the answer – just trying to cross-check!

Till next time,

Happy Eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

       

THE ART OF EATING by Vikram Karve

February 21, 2007

THE ART OF EATING
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating.

It’s sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner. And never eat when tired, angry, worried, tense, hurried, and at mealtimes refuse to think or talk about unpleasant subjects. It is best to eat alone, mindfully, with yourself, in glorious solitude, in a calm, serene, conducive and unhurried environment. If you must have company, you must always eat with relaxed and tranquil people who love food and whose company you enjoy; never eat with “toxic”, “harried” or “stressed-out” people or in a tense or hurried atmosphere.

If you want to do full justice to good food, you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine relishing each and every dish, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye.

Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”. It’s true. I eat my food twice. First in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. And then I do the honours – actually go ahead and eat it and enjoy the delightful experience.

Eating is not a gustatory experience alone; it’s visual and olfactory as well. Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. The Art of Eating. It’s Holistic. Multidimensional. Encompassing all domains of your inner being.

Eat in silence. Mindfully. With full awareness. Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on your tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate your taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within you. Chew your food to a pulp or milky liquid until it practically swallows itself. Never mix food and drink – alcohol dulls the taste buds, and olfactory sensation, and encumbers the unmitigated enjoyment of good food.

You must always close your eyes during the process of eating. When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. Focus all your senses on your food, eat mindfully, meditatively, and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.

It’s simple. Create a positive eating atmosphere, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness. Remember there is no love greater than the love of food!

In a nutshell, this is ‘The Art of Eating’.

VIKRAM KARVE
vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramwkarve.blogspot.com
http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Lavang Lata

February 21, 2007

HERITAGE CUISINE
Lavang Lata at Babumosai

By

VIKRAM KARVE

“Heritage Cuisine” – sounds good isn’t it?

You may presume that this pompous term refers to pretentious traditional high-brow cuisine which adorns the tables of the classes!

In my vocabulary “heritage cuisine” is high-falutin gobbledygook for simple staple down-to-earth local street-food relished by the masses. Like Vada Pav (Mumbai’s “Heritage Burger”), or Puneri Misal, or Kulcha Chole, Katchi Dabeli, Bhel, Kathi Kababs, Baida Roti, Malpua – the list is endless.

There is a delicious sweetmeat called “Lavang Lata” which I tasted for the first time and relished piping hot at Pehelwan’s at the end of Lanka near BHU in Varanasi in the seventies. A cool Lassi ( in winter) or warm milk (in summer), both with dollops of rabdi added, topped up the gastronomic experience.

Later, in the eighties, I came across slightly different versions of Lavang Lata at various eateries, most notably Nathu at Bengali market in New Delhi. But these versions were nowhere close to Pehelwan’s Banarasi Lavang Lata.

Just imagine my surprise, when, during my walk last evening, I chanced upon a delectable Lavang Lata in an out-of-the-way unpretentious sweet shop called ‘Babumosai Bengali Sweets’ tucked away almost in obscurity, way off the beaten track, on Aundh Road on the way to Khadki in Pune.

Actually I was in search of Rasgullas. (Roshogollas, if you want it spelt that way). Having relocated from a ‘happening’ place like Churchgate in the heart of Mumbai to an obscure “back of the beyond” desolate place somewhere in the jungles on the banks of Mula river between Aundh and Sangvi, craving and wandering desperately in my search for ‘heritage food’, I hit the Aundh road past Spicer College towards Khadki, enjoying a refreshing walk between the expanse of the verdant Botanical Gardens and the foliage of Pune University, when in the first building I encountered on my left, I saw a nondescript signboard “Babumosai Bengali Sweets” (maybe the spelling ought to be ‘Babumoshai’) atop a deserted lackluster sweetshop.

There was no one in the shop and the lifeless atmosphere and uninspiring display almost put me off. But having come so far, I decided to give it a try and looked at the sweets on display in trays behind a glass counter – Rasgullas, Sandesh, Rajbhog, Gulab Jamuns, Malai Sandwiches – the ubiquitous ‘Bengali Sweets’; and suddenly a man came out carrying a tray of piping hot Lavang Latas, the very sight of which made my mouth water so much that I ordered one immediately.

I walked outside the shop, stood in the cool evening air, took a small bite of the Lavang Lata, rolled the syrupy hot piece on my eager salivated tongue and closed my eyes in order to enhance my gustatory experience.

I pressed the Lavang Lata upwards with my tongue against the palate, the roof of my mouth, and slowly it disintegrated releasing its heavenly flavour of nutmeg and cardamom. That’s the way you should enjoy Bengali sweetmeats – never bite, swallow and devour in a hurry. Don’t use your teeth; slowly, very slowly, just roll on your tongue and lightly press on the roof of your mouth till the delicacy melts releasing its luxurious flavour and divine fragrance into your gustatory and olfactory systems. And remember, keep your eyes closed, shut yourself to the outside world, focus on your tongue, internalize the experience and transcend to a state of delightful ecstasy, till you feel you are in seventh heaven. That’s the art of eating.

The Lavang Lata is perfect. Not sickly sweet, but tantalizingly tasty, with the subtle essence of its ingredients and seasoning coming through. The rabri and khoya, the raisins and dry fruits, the crispy sweet crust, the spices and most importantly, the exotic fortifying and stimulating taste of clove. It’s sheer bliss. The invigorating taste lingers on my tongue for a long long time , as if for eternity.

Just writing this is making my mouth water. And I am rushing to “Babumosai” once more – this time to sample the Rasgullas, maybe the Sandesh – and I’ll tell you all about it right here.

And I’ll keep writing about all the my experiences with “Heritage Cuisine” and the art of eating.

Dear fellow Foodie – do let me know if you enjoyed reading this.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

GOOD FOOD GUIDE

February 21, 2007

EATING OUT IN SOUTH MUMBAI AND PUNE – PART 1
MY FAVOURITE FOOD AND WHERE I EAT IT
(Vikram Karve’s Good Food Guide to eating out in South Mumbai and Pune)
VIKRAM KARVE

I love good food. And I love walking around searching for good food – on my frequent ‘food walks’ as I call them. Let me share with you, dear fellow foodie, some of my favourite eateries. Most of them are in South Mumbai, near Churchgate, where I lived for six of the best years of my life, a few (where mentioned) are in Pune which is my home town and where I stay now.

Read on. It’s my very own Vikram Karve’s Value For Money Good Food Guide. I’ve walked there and eaten there. It’s a totally random compilation as I write as I remember and I may have missed out some of my favourites but I’ll add them on, in subsequent parts, as and when memory jogs me and also keep adding new places I discover during my food walks and trails. Try some places and let me know whether you liked it.

Vada Pav – CTO Vada Pav (Ashok Satam’s Stall) alongside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) at Flora Fountain ( Hutatma Chowk). Or at Sahaydri at Churchgate. In Pune, the ubiquitous Joshi or Rohit Vadewale but their vadas are not as crisp or zesty as Mumbai’s CTO vada.

Misal Pav – Vinay Health Home in Girgaum . Walk down Marine Drive, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Ladies Hostel ( it’s called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, walk a bit and Vinay is to your right. In Pune try Ramnath on Tilak Road or Bedekar in Narayan Peth.

Kheema Pav – Stadium. Next to Churchgate Station. Kyani at Dhobi Talao.

Seekh Kebabs – Ayubs (Chotte Mian). Take the lane to the left of Rhythm House Music Store at Kalaghoda and let your nose guide you. Or else head for Bade Mian near Regal or Sarvi at Nagpada.

Jeera Butter – Ideal Bakery. Kandewadi, Girgaum. And try the sugarcane juice at Rasvanti next door.

Chicken Stew ( Kerala Style), Malabar Paratha, Mutton Korma, Fish Curry and Appams – Fountain Plaza. In the lane off Handloom House. Fort. [Brings back nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam Kochi (Cochin)]

Chicken Biryani – Olympia. Colaba Causeway. In Pune it’s Dorabjee & Sons restaurant on Dastur Meher road off Sarbatwala Chowk in Pune Camp or Goodluck in Deccan.

Mutton Biryani – Shalimar. Bhendi Bazaar. I like the Chicken Chilly and Raan – it’s exquisite, like Karim’s of Delhi.

Dabba Gosht – Delhi Darbar, Grant Road or Colaba. In Pune try Sadanand at Baner.

Malvani Cuisine – Sachivalaya Gymkhana Canteen. Opposite Mantralaya. Nariman Point. Bombil Fry, Pomfret masala, Kombdi (Chicken) Vada and Lunch Thali.

Gomantak Cuisine – Sandeep Gomantak. Bazargate Street. Fort.

White Chicken, Dabba Gosht, Chiken Masala and Khaboosh Roti – Baghdadi. Near Regal. Off Colaba Causeway.

Nihari – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar. Near Metro.

Nalli Nihari – Noor Mohammadi. Bhendi Bazaar.

Berry Pulao – Brittania. Ballard Estate.

Puri Bhaji – Pancham Puriwala. Bazargate street. Opposite CST Station (VT).

Kolhapuri Cuisine – I go to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’ at Peru Gate Sadashiv Peth in Pune for authentic Kolhapuri Pandhra Rassa, Tambda Rassa and Kheema vati. In Kolhapur it’s Opal.

Gulab Jamun – Kailash Parbat. 1st Pasta Lane. Colaba Causeway.

Rasgulla – Bhaishankar Gaurishankar. CP Tank.

Khichdi – Khichdi Samrat. VP Road. CP Tank.

Vegetarian Thali – Bhagat Tarachand. Mumbadevi. Zaveri Bazar. And of course, Samrat, Churchgate. In Pune it’s Shreyas on Apte Road and Satara Road, Panchami on Satara Road and Durvankur on Tilak Road.

Navrattan Kurma – Vihar. JT Road. Shanker Jaikishan Chowk. Opp Samrat. Churchgate.

Veg Burger and Chicken Cafreal Croissant – Croissants. Churchgate. Or Burger King at the end of East Street in Pune.

Tea while browsing books – Cha-Bar. Oxford Bookstore. Churchgate.

Just a refreshing cup of Tea, Irani style – Stadium. Churchgate. Goodluck, Pune.

Ice Cream – Rustoms, Churchgate and Bachellor’s, Chowpatty (green chilli ice cream). In Pune Ganu Shinde and Kawre on Laxmi Road. Or Gujar Mastani House on Satara Road near City pride for the unique delicious thirst quenching Mastani.

Pav Bhaji – Lenin Pav Bhaji Stall. Khau Galli. New Marine Lines. Near SNDT. Sardar, Tardeo. Sukh Sagar, Opera House.

Jalebi – Pancharatna Jalebi House. Near Roxy. Opera House.

Milk Shakes, Juices and uniquely flavored ice creams – Bachellor’s. Opposite Chowpatty.

Stuffed Parathas – Samovar. Jehangir Art Gallery. Chaitanya, opp Fergusson College, Pune

Grilled Meat, Sizzlers and Steaks – Churchill. Colaba Causeway. Sundance, Churchgate. Sassanian, near Metro. Alps, behind Taj, Kobe and Sizzlers – The Place on Moledina Road next to Manney’s in Pune.

Sea food – Anant Ashram. Khotachiwadi. Girgaum. And so many places around Fort – Mahesh, Apoorva, Trishna, Fountain Inn, Bharat, Ankur .

Non Veg Multi Cuisine – Jimmy Boy near Horniman Circle

Apple Pie and Ginger Biscuits – Yazdani Bakery. Cawasji Patel Street. Between PM Road and Veer Nariman Road. Fort.

Cakes – Sassanian Boulangerie. 1st Marine Street. Near Metro.

Buns, Breads and Pastries – Gaylord Bake Shop. Churchgate.

Falooda – Badshah. Crawford Market. Shalimar, Bhendi Bazar.

Curds – Parsi Dairy. Princess Street.

Sandwiches – Marz-o-rin. Main Street. MG Road. Pune.

Chole Bhature – Monafood. Main Street. Pune. Darshan, Prabhat Road Pune.

Shrewsbury Biscuits and Choco-Walnut cake– Kayani Bakery. East Street. Pune.

The mere thought of Shrewsbury biscuits evokes in me a sensation I cannot describe. I am feeling nostalgic and am off to Pune – for Shrewsbury at Kayani, wafers at Budhani, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale, Mutton Biryani and Dhansak at Dorabjee, Misal at Ramnath, Sizzlers at The Place, Pandhra Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur, Mango Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde, Mastani at Kavare, Bhel at Saras Baug and on the banks of Khadakvasla lake, Pithla Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji and tak on top of Sinhagarh Fort, Chinese at Kamling (Oh no. Sadly it’s closed down so I’ll go across to the end of East Street to the East End Chinese takeaway next to Burger King).

And guess what? The moment I reach Pune, I’ll walk across the station and enjoy a refreshing Lassi at Shiv Kailas. And then walk down in the hot sun to Main Street. One thing I’ll miss is the non-veg samosas at erstwhile Naaz on the West End corner at the entrance to Main Street. The good old Naaz and Kamling are two places I really miss.

See you then. It’s one in the afternoon and I’m hungry. I’m going out for lunch – guess where !

Right now I’m near Aundh in Pune and I’m busy discovering interesting eating places. The multicuisine Polka Dots at Parihar Chowk for it’s Roasts, Season’s and Sarjaa for family dining, rasoi looks promising, Spicers for Lamingtons and cakes et al, Babumoshai for roshogullas and lavang lata, Shiv Sagar for Pav Bhaji, and the usual Udipi fare, a place called Thomson which claims to serve Kerala cuisine which I’m planning to try but did not venture into as it was deserted (crowded ambience and busy rapid turnover are the leitmotif of a good eatery), Diwadkars for Bhel, Vada Pav, Misal and Mann Dairy for a delicious lassi.

I foodwalked in Aundh and was thoroughly disappointed. In Aundh there are all the usual fast food pizza and burger joints, some high falutin restaurants and a few nondescript commonplace characterless eateries serving run of the mill stuff; but sadly there are very few authentic value for money down-to-earth no nonsense Spartan eateries around here where I can relish genuine cuisine to my heart’s delight.

South Mumbai is a foodie’s delight! Sadly, Aundh is certainly not a foodie destination. Or is it? Anyone know any good value for money food eateries around here? Or do I have to go all the way to Pune City or Camp?

Dear fellow foodies. Please do send in your comments so I can keep updating.

Happy Eating !

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

Nihari

February 21, 2007

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

by

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

I look in front of me. I like what I see. I keep seeing, my eyes locked on to the target, as if by some mysterious, yet astonishing, force of attraction. Something is happening within me. 

Senses heighten; stimulated, aroused in a way I have never felt before. Waves of desire rise within me. I feel tremors of anticipation. My mouth salivates and I lick my lips lasciviously in eager expectation. I feast my eyes hungrily. My heart beats. I feel possessed. Intense passion and lusty craving overwhelms me. I can’t control myself any longer.  Wild with desire, I move towards my target, ready for the kill. 

No. No. Dear Reader. Hold your horses of imagination. Just wait a moment. The object of my desire – it’s not what you are thinking. What I am looking at, the object of my attention, the focus of my temptation, is a bowl Nihari – two succulent generous pieces of mutton floating in a rich nourishing gravy looking so luxuriant and tempting, that I just can’t wait to devour the dish. But I control myself. Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating. It’s sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner. The bowl of Nihari, so luxuriously appetizing; a Khameeri Roti, so soft and fluffy. It looks sumptuous and scrumptious. I move closer. The tempting aroma – so enticing, so blissful – permeates within me, energizes my brain cells, activates my taste buds. My mouth waters. I am ready to eat. 

Eating is not a gustatory experience alone, it’s visual and olfactory as well. Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. The Art of Eating. It’s Holistic. Multidimensional. Encompassing all domains of your inner being. 

If you want to do full justice to good food, you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine eating each and every course, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye. Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”. 

It’s true. I eat my food twice. First in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. And then I do the honours – actually go ahead and eat it and enjoy the delightful experience.   

Using my right thumb and forefinger, I lovingly pick small piece of meat from the gravy and delicately place it on my tongue. I close my eyes. Look inside. To focus my conscious energy. To accentuate my awareness. To concentrate. That’s the cardinal principle of the Art of Eating. You must always close your eyes during the process of eating. When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. Focus, eat mindfully, meditatively, honour your taste buds and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness. 

The meat is so tender that even a toothless person can eat it. It’s truly “Melt in the mouth” cuisine – like the famous Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow. Soft, succulent, juicy. 

You don’t chew. You just gently squeeze the meat, softly rolling your tongue against the palate until the meat dissolves releasing its fascinating flavours. It’s sheer bliss. Enlightenment. Gustatory Orgasm. Sensory Resonance. I do not have words to describe the exhilarating sensation. 

That’s the hallmark of a genuine nourishing and invigorating Nihari, the best part of the thigh muscle, specially selected prime marrow bones with  generous portions of succulent meat, tenderized and marinated with curds, seasoned lovingly in the choicest of spices and dum-cooked to seal in the juices and flavours, slowly and gently, in a gravy carefully thickened with an assortment of flours of wheat, maize and dals as per the season and taste and garnished with thin strips of ginger and fine slices of fresh green chillies and a sprinkling of coriander. 

I turn my attention to the Kameeri Roti. Holding the roti with my left hand I pull out a piece with my right. The texture is perfect – soft and fluffy. I sample a piece – yummy – it tastes good by itself; and why shouldn’t it? Whole-wheat atta kneaded with plenty of curds, seasoned with a bit of sugar and salt, fermented overnight in a moist cloth, flattened and cooked in a tandoor. Nourishing, luxuriant, ideal with the Nihari. 

I dip a piece of roti in the thick gravy allowing it to soak in and place it on my tongue. Exquisite. A gentle bite. Tangy ginger strips and sharp chilli. A confluence of contrasting tastes. I absorb the riot of zesty flavours. It’s exciting, invigorating, perks me up and I am ready for what I am going to do next. 

And what am I going to do next? You knew it, didn’t you? I call for a marrow spoon, dig it into the marrow bone, scoop out some marrow and lick it on my tongue. I close my eyes and I can feel the nourishment coming all the way through. It’s a wonderful feeling. 

I eat in silence. Mindfully. Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on my tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate my taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within me. 

The succulent meat. The sumptuous gravy. The luxuriant fluffy Kameeri Roti. It’s a feast worthy of the Gods. An ambrosial repast! 

 

I am in a supreme state of bliss. Is this enlightenment? Or gustatory delight.  Maybe it’s meditative eating. Or let’s narrow it down to the art of eating a Nihari. 

It’s simple. Create a positive eating atmosphere, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness. In a nutshell, this is ‘The Art of Eating’. 

 

Epilogue 

 

I used to visit two eateries on 1st Marine Street Dhobi Talao near Metro Cinema in Mumbai – Sassanian when in the mood for Parsi food or maybe a Roast Chicken, or to pick up delicious cakes, biscuits and freshly baked delights from their Boulangerie next-door and Punjabi Fish Mart for earthy deep fried fish best enjoyed piping hot by well fortified cast-iron stomachs on cold damp monsoon evenings. 

Sometime back, maybe in mid 2005, returning one evening from one of my food-walks, I noticed, in between these two of my favourite eateries, a newly opened restaurant – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – with a takeaway section, from where I picked up a menu card and walked home. 

Later that night I read the menu card and was delighted to find on it my favourite non-vegetarian delicacy – Nihari. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I partook of the dish. 

And soon I had my tryst with Nihari and experienced this delightful gustatory affair to remember. 

Dear fellow Foodie – Do let me know of other good places where I can enjoy my favourite Nihari. 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

 

Cutlet at Dadar TT by Vikram Karve

February 21, 2007

AN UNFORGETTABLE VEG CUTLET AT KHODADAD CIRCLE DADAR TT
by
VIKRAM KARVE

If you happen to be at Dadar TT, on one of those hungry evenings, and are in the mood for something different, then head for a small eatery called ‘Swagat’ next to Birdy’s at the northern end of Khodadad Circle. It’s an unpretentious down-to-earth place, so don’t bother to go inside, unless you want to suffocate in the fumes emanating from the kitchen; just sit on one of the tables outside and order a plate of Veg Cutlets and wait in anticipation whilst watching the action on the street.

You won’t have to wait for long, for here they mean business; and you will find thrust in front of you, a plate with two dark brown piping hot vegetable cutlets in a bed of freshly cut tomatoes and cucumber.

First, an exploratory nibble. The cutlet is superbly crisp on the outside, but inside it’s a zesty melt-in-the-mouth medley, an almost semi-liquid conglomeration, a spicy potpourri, or rather a delicious hodgepodge of assorted vegetables (carrots, beetroot, peas, potatoes and many others). It’s hot – both temperature-hot and spicy-hot – and leaves a tangy sensation on your tongue. No, don’t go for the glass of water – just place a slice of cucumber on your tongue, and when it cools down, pop in a slice of tomato. That’s the way begin to eat it!

After the first bite, you won’t find it that piquant, especially if you add a dab of tomato sauce, but if you want to really relish it, do eat it in small pieces, exactly as I described it, without any additives like the dreadful tomato-pumpkin sauce the serve at these places. Let the symbiosis of tastes come through ( of the blended medley of vegetables and spices, chillies and coriander, ginger and garlic and the crisp crust ) and let the aftertaste and pungency linger within you for some time – so please don’t have tea or coffee, or even a sip of water, immediately after enjoying the cutlet.

You may have eaten all types of cutlets, in various sizes and shapes, but this one is different. The vegetarian cutlet at Swagat is no ‘run of the mill’ stuff! You can take my word for it.

Epilogue

My wife’s concept of a cutlet :

Take all the leftovers from the fridge, ‘CUT’ them up, season with salt and red chilli powder, mash, make into rounds, roll in leftover breadcrumbs/atta, and ‘LET’ them into a hot pan with yesterday’s left over oil.

You see, her recipe is quite simple – you “cut” and you “let” and, presto, you have your cut-let.

No wonder I crave and pine for a decent cutlet and don’t let go of an opportunity to satiate my gastronomic yearning whenever and wherever I can find a cutlet (including the insipid bland apology they serve on the Deccan Queen).

Dear Reader, please let me know where I can enjoy some good cutlets, veg and non-veg, so that I can embark upon a cutlet-eating spree. Meanwhile, let me close my eyes, heighten my gustatory senses, and in my mind’s eye, savour with simulated vicarious relish, the unforgettable cutlet I enjoyed at Swagat in Dadar TT. Oh yes, it was different!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

Lunch at Shalimar Bhendi Bazar Mumbai

February 21, 2007

A HEARTY LUNCH AT SHALIMAR IN BHENDI BAZAR
by
VIKRAM KARVE

Right now I’m experiencing a severe case of “Writer’s Block” so I’m going to write about Food. It’s almost lunch time, so I close my eyes and try to recollect the most memorable lunch I’ve had in recent times.

Is it the Chicken Stew with Appams at Fountain Plaza in Fort, or the Fish Curry ( Gassi) and Rice at Bharat Lunch Home, or is it the Berry Pulao at Brittania in Ballard Estate, or the Biryani at Olympia, or the pure Veg Maharashtrian Thali at Shreyas in Pune?

I’m confused; so I exercise my memory cells a bit more. And suddenly I remember. Oh yes, no doubt about it; it’s the farewell lunch my colleagues gave me, a day before I left Mumbai, at Shalimar Restaurant situated at Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai.

We reach at one in the afternoon. At first impression I like the place – an abundance of connoisseurs thoroughly enjoying their food as is evident from their body language, high turnover, no nonsense, no frills, businesslike atmosphere – appetite builds up in me and I know we have come to the right place. The place is crowded, there’s no place on the ground floor, so we go to the air-conditioned dining hall upstairs.

I don’t even look at the proffered menu card. I am going to surrender myself to my hosts – they will order and I will just eat.

First they order a hot “Chinese” soup which is nice and spicy, with lots of vegetables, sea food and chicken in it, and at the end of it I am voraciously hungry.

Then is brought in front of me for my perusal, piping hot and simmering, the signature dish of the place – Tandoori Raan Masala. I nod my approval, and it’s taken away for chopping up and slicing, and a generous portion served to me along with a Tandoori Roti. I put a small piece of the meat in my mouth; it’s very very tasty. Spicy and zesty, it’s quite different from the Raan I’ve eaten at Karim’s in Delhi. Then I bash on regardless with the Tandoori roti and pieces of the delectable raan. In between , I scoop and devour the marrow which tastes delicious.

Then I find in front of me a dish of Shalimar Chicken Chilli – a specialty of the place. It’s mouthwatering! For the first time in my life I eat a so-called Chinese dish – Chilli Chicken – with Tandoori Roti, and let me tell you it tastes fantastic.

Now my insides are on a delicious spicy fire, my tongue bracing with spicy tang and my nose is watering, so is put in front of my a glass of ice cold Shahi Gulab Falooda to quench my fires. In a word, it’s heavenly; a perfect conclusion to a most enjoyable lunch and its exquisite flavour and divine fragrance remain with me for a long time.

Indeed a ‘medley’ meal – a “Chinese” soup, Mughlai Mutton Raan, Chilli Chiken ( ostensibly Chinese but whose genre I can’t fathom or classify!), Tandoori Roti and the blissful Falooda. A culinary symbiosis of gourmet food I’ll never forget.

Just writing this has made me hungry – really famished and ravenous. So I’m heading for lunch. Where? I’ll tell you later. Right here, in this blog.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.livelournal.com