Archive for June 15th, 2007

Good Food in Good Luck

June 15, 2007

TAWA GOSH GREEN MASALA

  

By

  

VIKRAM KARVE

      

If you are famished, have a hundred bucks in your pocket, and happen to be somewhere near Deccan Gymkhana in Pune, where would you go to satiate your ravenous pangs of hunger?

  

“Good Luck” – No two ways about it! – you’ll head for Café Good Luck.

  

That’s what I did this afternoon. And since I was feeling a bit adventurous I didn’t order my staple Chicken Biryani, but decided to try out the exotic sounding “Tawa Gosh Green Masala” [the “Gosh” is not the “Oh Gosh!” type of “Gosh” but refers to meat or mutton and maybe better spelt “Ghosht” or “Gosht” – but then the métier of Café Good Luck is food, not spelling!]

  

I like to see my food being made in front of me – it enhances the totality of my gastronomic experience. That’s why I like Dhabas, and street food joints like Bade Miya [Bade Mian], Pav Bhaji, Bhel and Indian Fast Food Stalls, and when invited for a meal I try to reach early and peek into the kitchen. Some high-falutin restaurants too, like the Frontier Food specialty restaurant on the ground floor of Maurya in Delhi we used to visit long back, have huge transparent glass partitions where eager patrons can visually relish and savor their food being cooked in the kitchens before it is served to them on the table.

  

In Café Good Luck the Tawa is tucked away in the family area inside and I watch in anticipation as the generous mutton pieces, precooked [marinated and boiled], are blended into the freshly sautéed “green” gravy right in front of me on the huge flat Tawa.

  

I go to my table. There is an empty plate and a quarter-plate of sliced onions and lemon wedges. I season the onions with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. I’m going to squeeze some lemon into the gravy too, and later into a glass of water which I will drink on the conclusion of meal to lighten the rich spicy aftertaste.

  

The sizzling Tawa Gosh Green Masala arrives with two piping hot chapattis. I dip an exploratory finger and lick – the gravy is yummy and my mouth waters in anticipation. I fill my plate, squeeze a bit of lemon, and bash on regardless. The mutton pieces are large, well-cooked and succulent – there’s even a marrow bone piece. The gravy is lip-smackingly delicious. From time to time I encounter whole pieces of “sabud” masala and spices like green cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, garlic, green chilies and strips of crunchy ginger, which add a kick and zest to the taste.

  

It’s an excellent, fulfilling, wholesome meal which leaves me fully satisfied and satiated. I’m glad I was a bit adventurous and deviated from my staple biryani, kheema, mutton cutlet curry fare, and I’m sure going to try out some new dishes, maybe the exotic sounding “Jungli Mutton or Chicken” , the next time I visit my good old favorite Café Good Luck.

    

VIKRAM KARVE

   

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Malpua and Kheer

June 15, 2007

MALPUA AND KHEER

[a sumptuous delicious breakfast]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

  

The rains have arrived in Pune. No, not the heavy monsoon showers one experiences in Mumbai, but the characteristic Puneri drizzle [pir-pir] with a shower once in a while. Whilst on my evening walk on ITI Road in Aundh last evening I was suddenly caught unawares by one of these sporadic showers so I ducked into the nearest shelter I could find – the basement of the Ozone Mall where I discovered a sweet shop called Kadhai. The brisk walk, the rainy season and the tempting array of sweets and savories on display made my mouth water and created an appetite in me, and I was wondering what to eat, when I discovered one of my favorite sweets “Malpua” displayed on the Menu Chart hung on the wall. This was indeed a pleasant surprise [since one doesn’t get to see much of Malpua in Pune] and brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of the delicious Malpua-Kheer we savored and devoured with gusto as a nourishing wholesome breakfast after bouts of heavy exercise on cold winter Sunday mornings long back in Banaras. Those were indeed the good old gastronomic days of high calorie energizing winter breakfasts like Malpua-Kheer and piping hot Jalebi or Lavang Lata with freshly boiled thick creamy Doodh [Milk] dipped and eaten the same way as one eats khari biscuits with Irani Chai.

  

I asked for Malpua and Kheer, but there was no Kheer, so I ordered a plate of Malpua and eagerly put a piece of the rich brown syrupy Malpua in my mouth. It was terrible – the Malpua tasted like boiled rubber drenched in sugar syrup. It did not melt in the mouth, or dissolve gracefully on the palate, but disintegrated into brittle fragments and left a stodgy aftertaste.

  

The soft fluffy succulent lusciousness, the sweet-sour tang of banana and curd fermentation, the spicy fragrance of cardamom, and most important, the distinctive taste and classic flavor of saunf [badishep] which is the hallmark of authentic Malpua, were conspicuous by their absence.

  

I was so disappointed that I called the “Maharaj” and asked him how he had managed to bungle and botch this exquisite delicacy and churn out this inexcusably appalling stuff masquerading as Malpua.

  

“Simple,” he said, “Boil enough Milk till it becomes Rabdi, mix in Maida and make a smooth batter, fry the pancakes in pure Ghee and soak in sugar syrup.”

  

“Just Milk and Maida? That’s not how you make Malpua,” I told him, “What about the Banana, Saunf, Cardamom, Spices, Coconut, Dry Fruit, Curds…?”

  

“This is the Rajasthani Style Malpua,” he said sheepishly and disappeared.

  

There are many versions of Malpua all over India – I have tasted the Rajasthani, Bengali, Karnataka, Maharashtrian, Gujarati, MP and UP versions. Then there are improvisations like potato malpua, pineapple malpua, orange malpua et al. There is also the inimitable and matchless heavy duty invigorating and energizing hearty Malpua, braced and fortified with eggs, prepared in the evenings and nights during the holy month of Ramzan by Suleman Mithaiwala at Mohammed Ali Road near Minara Masjid in Mumbai. It is a meal in itself, but if you want you really want to do justice start off with Kababs, relish the Malpua, and top up with Phirnee.

  

Tell me, in which genre of cuisine should Malpua be classified? I’ll tell you – genuine Malpua is Bihari Cuisine. That’s right, no doubt about it, Malpua is a speciality of Bihar, like Khaja, and the best authentic Malpua is made Bihari Style, and this is how a Bihari friend of mine, an expert cook, taught me to make Malpua, long back.

  

Make a smooth batter with Maida, pinch of soda and salt, banana pulp, milk, cardamom [choti elaichi] pods and powder, a small pinch of nutmeg powder, freshly grated coconut, powdered and whole saunf, beaten curds and water. Beat well with your hands till the batter becomes light and fluffy. Cover and leave aside for an hour or more for a bit of fermentation.

  

Prepare 1:1 sugar syrup seasoned with cardamom and cloves. Sprinkle a little rosewater, saffron or essence, if you want. Keep the syrup hot, at least warm, to facilitate easy ingress into the malpua and to keep it soft and succulent.

  

Now mix and whip well with your hands, adding water if required, to get a smooth batter of pouring consistency, and deep-fry the pua [pancake] in pure ghee till nice and brown, soft and cooked, not too crisp. When ready take out the fried pua , drain excess ghee, and dip the pua  in the hot sugar syrup completely for a minute to enable just enough permeation but obviate over-sogginess. With the sugar syrup absorbed, the pua has now become malpua and is ready to be eaten with deliciously sweet lip smacking Kheer. [Now don’t tell me you don’t know how to make delicious Kheer!]

  

Malpua must be eaten with Kheer. This is not a dessert, or snack, but a complete nourishing breakfast in its entirety. The luscious wholesome combination is heavenly and you will be overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling of blissful satiation.

  

Dear fellow Foodie – would you be so good as to tell me where I can find and savor genuine authentic Malpua and Kheer.

   

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

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