Archive for May 29th, 2007

Eating Out in Churchgate Mumbai

May 29, 2007

Kheema Pav, Bun Maska and Chai at Churchgate

by
VIKRAM KARVE

When I used to live in Empress Court, opposite the Oval, near Churchgate, I would rise at dawn, as the clock on Rajabai Tower struck Six, and go for a long brisk walk all the way to Chowpatty, and on my return, I would head for Stadium restaurant for a refreshing and stimulating cup of tea to energize me and perk me up for the day ahead. On Sundays and holidays, when we went for our super long walks down Marine Drive, up Walkeshwar, Teen Batti, down Malabar Hill, Napean sea Road, a round of Priyadarshini Park, Kemps Corner, Hughes Road, Babulnath, and back, there were three places where we used to breakfast to satiate our ravenous appetites – if my walking partner was a vegetarian we used to head to Vinay in Girgaum for a Misal Pav; and if non vegetarian, it was either Kyani at Dhobi Talao or Stadium at Churchgate for a Kheema Pav.

Stadium serves wholesome tasty Kheema dishes throughout the day, an ideal “snack’ if you are feeling famished. I like their “pudding” and patties too; their Chicken Biryani is worth a try, and so are the “Chinese” dishes, and, if you are in a hurry, why not have a quick spicy egg bhurji with fresh soft pav? Look at the blackboard on the wall for the day’s special – these dishes are real good, whether it’s fried fish, dal gosht, or, if it’s your lucky day, chicken or mutton dhansak.

Stadium Cafe, located next to Churchgate Railway Station, is a clean, well-lighted place to pass time, waiting for someone, or browsing a book, or just doing nothing, staring out onto the busy street, while enjoying a cup of invigorating tea with a bun maska. I like Stadium. It is a clean well-lighted place. It is easy on your wallet, and serves good wholesome food in relaxed ambiance.

VIKRAM KARVE

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KACHORI – MY FAVORITE FAST FOOD

May 29, 2007

MY FAVORITE “FAST” FOOD

By

VIKRAM KARVE

My wife observes and indulges in (and consequently subjects me to) all types of fasts. She fasts on Mondays, Chaturthies and any occasion she wants to fast. Actually, her “fasts” are not true fasts in the rigorous real sense, only a change of food, to what I call “fast food” which is quite delicious and maybe a bit more calorie-rich than normal food (that’s the “fast food” I’m referring to, not the burgers and pizza you thought!).

My favorite fast food is the Kachori. No! No! It’s not the scrumptious Rajasthani style lip-smacking Khasta Kachori I’m referring to, but the Sweet Kachori served by most Udipi eateries in and around Mumbai and Pune.

Take boiled mashed potato, add a bit of sabudana peeth (sago flour) for binding, a pinch of salt and sugar and knead into a dough.

Roast fresh juicy grated coconut with sugar, khus khus, dry fruit like raisins, cashews, till it is nice and crispy “khamang” – and your filling is ready.

You must roast in pure ghee, as oil is not permitted on a “fast”.

Make largish round patties with the potato dough on the outside and a generous portion of the roasted sweet coconut filling inside and deep fry till nicely crusty, crisp and light brown and your sweet kachori is done (fast and simple isn’t it?).

Serve with a katori of whipped sweetened curds and your “fast food” is ready to eat.

You will be tempted to break a piece of Kachori, dip it in the curds and then eat it – don’t do it, that’s not the right way to eat sweet kachori and you’ll ruin the experience as the concoction will turn soggy. What you must do is to place a chunk of crisp hot kachori on your tongue and close your eyes. Now savor the “khamang” crunchy taste of the lively roasted coconut filling for some time, then press your tongue on your palate and roll till the heavenly sweet filling and the crisp potato covering amalgamate. It’s really yummy!

Now is the time to pop in a spoon of sweet whipped curds, and let the feisty assortment of flavors dance and mingle on your tongue till the food dissolves in your mouth and disappears into you giving you a feeling of supreme satisfaction. [I once saw a movie called “Blow Hot Blow Cold” in the seventies – the art of eating a sweet kachori is similar: hot and cold, hot and cold, crunchy and soft, crunchy and soft, sweet and sour, sweet and sour!].

I first tasted the sweet kachori at a place called Apsara near Hirabaug on Tilak Road in Pune. It’s still my favorite. Vihar, at Churchgate in Mumbai, and Vaishali, on Fergusson College Road, Pune, serve an excellent sweet kachori too; and I’m sure you’ll find it on the menu of almost all Udipi restaurants.

So next time you want to relish your “fast” you know which “fast food” to eat, in addition to the usual sabudana khichadi, sabudana wade and ratalyacha kees.

Happy “Fasting” !

VIKRAM KARVE

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Vada Pav

May 29, 2007

MY FAVOURITE VADA PAV

By

VIKRAM KARVE

My favourite Vada Pav is CTO Vada Pav at Ashok Satam’s stall on the Flora Fountain (Hutatma Chowk) side of the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in Mumbai.

The Vada is served freshly fried piping hot and is crisp and crunchy on the outside. That’s how a good Vada should be from the outside, nice and crisp, not soft and soggy like most of the fare dished out elsewhere.

The moment you bite the sharp zesty effect of the spices and greens hits you – there is an abundance of tangy greens in the tasty fusion inside : green chillies, coriander, curry patta, ginger-garlic. Don’t chew, just roll your tongue and press the hot stuff against your palate and let it dissolve. You’ll feel stimulated for sure! It’s not only mouth watering; it may be even nose-watering too if you have a delicate tongue. So might as well put the vada in a pav and savour the CTO Vada Pav gazing at the Hutatma Memorial, the Fountain and nice faces in the crowd rushing by to and from Churchgate.

Can anyone tell me where I can enjoy a good Vada Pav in Pune? I’ve tasted a few so far, even the famed Joshi’s, Diwadkar, Rohit et al, and found them quite soggy and insipid compared to the Mumbai’s CTO Vada.

VIKRAM KARVE

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SAMOVAR – Lazy Lunch in Mumbai

May 29, 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



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