Archive for July 2007

Rustic Indian Chicken Curry

July 30, 2007

MOUTHWATERING MEMORIES – RUSTIC INDIAN CHICKEN CURRY AT A WAYSIDE DHABA IN VISAKHAPATNAM [VIZAG]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

It’s a cold, damp and depressing evening in the back of beyond place where I now live.. There is an ominous wind, menacing lightening and disturbing thunder, and it starts to rain. Predictably, the lights go off, adding to the gloomy atmosphere.

My spirits plummet and I sit downcast in desolate silence and indulge in forlorn self-commiseration mourning the past (which makes me feel miserable), speculating the future (which causes me anxiety) and ruining my present moment (which makes me melancholic).

Whenever I am in a blue mood, two things are guaranteed to lift my spirits – good food and beautiful women – or even merely thinking about them in my mind’s eye. [In fact, I dread that the day I stop relishing good food, or appreciating beautiful women, for on that day I will know that I have lost the zest for living and I am as good as a dead man!]. As I languish out here in this godforsaken environment bereft of gustatory or visual stimulation (Colaba and Churchgate but distant memories), I close my eyes and seek to simulate my senses (that’s the trick – if you can’t stimulate; then simulate) trying to think interesting thoughts, evoke happy nostalgia, and suddenly a mouthwatering memory rekindles my spirits as I vividly remember the tastiest chicken curry I ever eaten and truly relished long back, almost twenty years ago, sometime in the eighties, at a rustic wayside dhaba on the highway near Visakhapatnam , or Vizag as we knew it.

The ramshackle place was called NSTL Dhaba, why I do not know, and maybe it does not exist now, or may have metamorphosed into the ubiquitous motel-type restaurants one sees on our highways. We reached there well past midnight, well fortified and primed, as one must be when one goes to a dhaba, ordered the chicken curry and watched it being cooked.

Half the joy of enjoying delicious food is in watching it being made – imbibing the aroma and enjoying the sheer pleasure of observing the cooking process. And in this Dhaba the food is made in front of you in the open kitchen which comprises an open air charcoal bhatti with a tandoor and two huge cauldrons embedded and a couple of smaller openings for a frying pan or vessel.

They say that the best way to make a fish curry is to catch the fish fresh and cook it immediately. Similarly, the best way to make a chicken curry is to cut a chicken fresh and cook it immediately with its juices intact. And remember to use country chicken or desi murgi or gavraan kombdi for authentic taste.

And that is what is done here. The chicken is cut after you place the order and the freshly cut, dressed and cleaned desi murgi is thrown whole into the huge cauldron full of luxuriantly thick yummy looking gravy simmering over the slow fire.

How do you cook your Indian Mutton or Chicken curries? Do you fry the meat and then add water and cook it, or do you cook (boil) the meat first and then fry it? Here the chicken will be cooked first in the gravy, on a slow fire, lovingly and unhurriedly, and then stir fried later (tadka ).

There are a number of whole chickens floating in the gravy and the cook is keeping an eagle eye on each and every one of them, and from time to time gently nurturing and helping them absorb the flavor and juices of the gravy (As the chickens absorb the gravy they become heavier and acquire an appetizing glaze). Once the cook feels a chicken is ready (30-40 minutes of gentle slow nurtured cooking), he takes out the chicken, chops it up, and throws it into a red-hot wok pan to stir fry basting with boiling oil and then ladles in a generous amount of gravy from the cauldron. When ready the chicken curry is garnished with crisp fried onion strips and coriander and savored with hot tandoori roti. We have a bowl of dal (simmering in the other cauldron) duly “tadkofied” as a side dish. The chicken is delicious and the gravy is magnificent. Ambrosia! We eat to our heart’s content – a well-filled stomach radiates happiness!

I still remember how delightfully flavorsome, tasty and nourishing every morsel was, and just thinking about the lip-smacking rustic chicken curry has made me so ravenously hungry that I’m heading for one of those untried and “untasted” Dhabas in my vicinity to sample their wares.

If I don’t find it anywhere I’m going to try and make this rustic chicken curry at home. And if anyone in Vizag is reading this, do let us know whether the highway dhaba still exists or has it vanished.

Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com
 

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Value For Money Dining in Mumbai

July 30, 2007

BAGHDADI  [Bagdadi]

WHOLESOME VALUE FOR MONEY NON VEG FOOD IN COLABA MUMBAI

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Next time you are on Colaba Causeway, in Mumbai, have a meal in Baghdadi. It’s on the ‘Bade Mian’ lane (turn left as you walk down past Regal before Mondegar, and then after a couple of steps take the first turn right, walk past Bade Mian on your left, Gokul restaurant on your right, and on your left you will find Baghdadi). Otherwise enter the lane opposite Olympia and you will find Baghdadi on the first turn to the left.

Baghdadi’s speciality is the huge Khaboosh Roti and along with it try any chicken or mutton gravy dish. The special dish of the day is always good – White Chicken on Tuesdays, I think, is what I like best. The White Chicken and the soft fluffy roti – it’s finger licking stuff!

I like their Chicken Kashmiri and Mutton dishes too. And there always is my all time favorite – the inimitable tried and tested Baghdadi staple dish Chicken Masala at all times.

Their Biryani is different too – there is a huge Tandoori Chicken piece in it. But I prefer the Biryani at Olympia across Colaba Causeway.  The Tandoori Chicken on its own is delicious too, especially with the roti, as an appetizer. 

But my all time favorite is Bagdadi’s huge fluffy Roti (is it called the Khaboosh Roti or the Khameeri Roti?) with any gravy Chicken dish or Mutton Masala or even a Chilli Chicken. Whatever you eat, don’t forget to order their unique wholesome khameeri or khaboosh roti – it’s the specialty of the place, their signature dish, and I don’t think you get it as good anywhere else.

If you are a vegetarian, it’s best to try Kamats, Kailas Parbat or the pure veg eatery adjacent to Sahakari Bhandar, or Chetana in Kalaghoda.

But if you’re a hard core non vegetarian, and have a cast iron stomach, the next time you’re somewhere near Gateway or Colaba in Mumbai, and you are terribly hungry, and want a quick, hot, tasty, nourishing, satiating and fulfilling meal that’s easy on your wallet, just head for Baghdadi. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll carry with you mouthwatering memories of the finger licking food for a long long time.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

Seafood in Koliwada

July 30, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA
By
VIKRAM KARVE

You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants. Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names. But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there? No! You haven’t? Doesn’t matter. Come with me on a Foodie trail. I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.

To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination. Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.

At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai. You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!

Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.

It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.

Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!

The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.

You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food. The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite! Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you’ll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.

Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.

But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close you eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.

At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal. And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing. It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.

Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. And do let us know how you enjoyed it!

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com
http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

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LAMINGTON

July 21, 2007

LAMINGTON
( a melt in the mouth treat )

By

VIKRAM KARVE

In the evening I often go for a walk on Aundh Road from Bremen Chowk towards the railway line at Khadki. It’s one of the best places to walk in Pune, wide roads with plenty of greenery and foliage on both sides. And on my way back I treat myself with a Lamington at the Spicer College Bakery Shop. I delicately place the soft delicacy between my lips, press and squeeze a piece of the wonderful stuff on my tongue. I close my eyes in order to enhance the experience of supreme bliss as the Lamington melts in my mouth and the chocolatty-coconutty luscious syrupy sweetness permeates into me.

A Lamington is a delicious cube of sponge cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut. They originated in Australia around 1898 in what later became the state of Queensland. Whilst the origin of the name for the Lamington cannot be accurately established, there are several theories.

Lamingtons are most likely named after Charles Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. However, the precise reasoning behind this is not known, and stories vary. According to one account, the dessert resembled the homburg hats favoured by Lord Lamington. Another tells of a banquet in Cloncurry during which the governor accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of gravy, and then threw it over his shoulder, causing it to land in a bowl of desiccated coconut or peanut butter. A diner thought of replacing the gravy with chocolate and thus created the lamington as we know it today. Ironically, Lord Lamington was known to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, once referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”. Another theory is that they were named after Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor.

The Spicer College Bakery Lamington is my favourite – and can you imagine it costs just Eight Rupees [that’s six Lamingtons for a Dollar, for those who think in Dollars!]. The chocolate icing keeps the cake moist. The desiccated coconut protects it from drying out in the hot climate. And it’s quite a juicy generous lip-smacking treat!

The Spicer College Bakery serves a variety of healthy goodies like carrot cake, nut cake, doughnuts, samosas, soy patties, soya milk; but, for me, it’s always the yummy succulent Lamington!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

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A SATIATING DAY IN MUMBAI

July 17, 2007

A SATIATING NON-VEG DAY IN MUMBAI

  

By

  VIKRAM KARVE   

Good Morning, dear Reader – come spend a satiating Non-Veg Foodie day with me in Mumbai.   

BREAKFAST

    

I start early, at dawn, from my house near Churchgate, admire, in the early morning pre-sunrise light, the impressive silhouettes of the magnificent Gothic structures of the High Court and Mumbai University across the Oval, hear the clock on Rajabai Tower strike six, walk briskly past Oxford Bookstore, KC College, CCI, Marine Plaza Hotel; cross the Marine Drive, turn right and start off towards Chowpatty, greeting with a smile the morning joggers and walkers, rinsing my lungs with the fresh invigorating sea breeze, and soon I am past Marine Lines, Taraporewala Aquarium, Charni Road, Chowpatty, Wilson College and at the end of Marine Drive.

  

Here I ponder for a moment. Should I turn left up the Walkeshwar Road to Teen Batti and Banganga? Or should I turn right towards Babulnath; or should I turn back towards Nariman Point? I experience a sense of true freedom. I can make whatever choice I want; go wherever I desire!

  I choose to cross the road, and walk fast, straight up the steep path towards Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill, trying to exercise my heart and lungs. I take a round of garden atop the water tank near Kamala Nehru Park (is it called Phirozeshah Mehta Udyan?), canter down to Kemp’s Corner where I turn right, a U-turn really, past Crossword Bookstore, down Hughes Road, left past Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossing the railway over-bridge keep going onto Grant Road passing Novelty Cinema , turn right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road, reach VP Road, walk past Gol Deval, Alankar cinema and there I am at Bhendi Bazar – my destination Noor Mohammadi Hotel in front of me across Mohamedali Road.

 

Almost two hours of brisk walking has built up in me a voracious appetite and I am ready to devour a sumptuous breakfast. I am hungry; and I eat only when I am hungry!

  I enter the Spartan no-nonsense eatery and order a Nalli Nihari and Roti. Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy, with a generous chunk of succulent meat floating in it, and a fluffy khaboosh roti is placed in front of me. I dip a piece of the soft roti in the spicy rich gravy, let it soak for a while, put it in my mouth and close my eyes to luxuriate in and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.

 I can feel the juicy gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue, releasing its delicious flavours and spicy aroma which permeate into my soul. I am in seventh heaven and keep on attaining higher states of sheer heavenly bliss with every succulent bite of the mouth watering concoction – they say it’s a bone marrow and wheat gravy, but I don’t delve too much on the contents of a dish – it’s the taste, delicacy, eating experience and ultimate divine feeling of satiation that matters.

 

It’s a delectable beginning to a delightful day as the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari lingers on my tongue indefinitely. It’s epicurean satiation of the highest order – a blissful experience I can never forget.

  

Dear Reader; if you happen to be in Mumbai and are ready for a sumptuous non-vegetarian breakfast, begin your day with Nalli Nihari at Noor Mohammadi in Bhendi Bazar. And don’t forget to tell me how you enjoyed it! Wasn’t it a fortifying and stimulating experience?

  

But remember; if you want to truly appreciate this splendid Heritage Gourmet Trencherman’s Breakfast Dish to its fullest, you must build up an appetite for it! Happy eating!

     LUNCH

   

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 White Chicken and huge fluffy Khaboosh Roti at Bagdadi?

  

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, and 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. How about you, dear reader – where are you heading for lunch?

   

DINNER

   

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. Just wait a moment. Hold your horses. Don’t let your imagination run wild. 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 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, and 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, when I used to live near Churchgate in Mumbai, 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.

   Should I end my Non-Veg day in Mumbai with a deliciously soothing Falooda at Badshah, a thick and yummy Mango milk Shake at Sukh Sagar or Haji Ali or a Kulfi at Chowpatty or an Ice Cream at Rustom – the possibilities are endless!

 Dear Reader, after such a satiating day, for me it’s now – Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Sweet Dreams.    

VIKRAM KARVE

   

vikramkarve@sify.com

   

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

   

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Pune Food Walk

July 15, 2007

FOODWALKING IN PUNEby
VIKRAM KARVE

What is ‘loafing’?

Idling away one’s time on useless things? Aimless Loitering. 

Loitering! Sounds a bit derogatory, isn’t it? Okay let’s say it’s aimless wandering. Perfectly useless time spent in a perfectly useless manner! Yes. That’s how I would like to define the art of loafing. Spending perfectly useless time in a perfectly useless manner!
And what is foodwalking?

Loitering, or rather walking, in search of good food.
That’s what I did a few days back. I loafed. In search of good food.I spent a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner – Foodwalking. In Pune. Let me tell you about it.

It’s a beautiful morning. I try to furtively slip out of my house unnoticed, but I am stopped in my tracks by my wife’s piercing voice, “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know?” I answer truthfully, and this adroit answer probably precludes the next question she is about to ask, “What time are you coming back?” for she knows I will again truthfully answer, “I don’t know.”

“Take the mobile with you,” she shouts, but I pretend not to hear and make myself scarce and disappear as fast as possible for I do not want the manacles of technology to ruin my day. If you want to truly enjoy life – beware of the technology trap!

It’s a bright day. I feel good. Flush with a sense of carefree irresponsibility, I walk with a spring in my step. I am going to enjoy my leisure.

Should I turn left? Should I turn right? I was free. Free to go wherever I desired. Free. To enjoy my day as I wanted. True freedom. To travel with no destination to reach. No task to complete. No deadlines to meet. Just Loaf. Aimlessly. Timelessly. Spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner.

I see a bus, stop it and hop in.

“Where do you want to go?” the conductor asks.

“Where does this bus go?” I ask.

“Pune Railway Station.”

“Okay. One Pune Railway Station,” I say holding out a tenner.

The conductor gives me an amused look and hands me a ticket and a rupee coin. I sit down, think interesting thoughts and enjoy the view through the window. On these trips of mine I prefer traveling by bus and, of course, I love to walk on foot. Driving my car on the terrible potholed, crowded and chaotic roads of Pune makes me go crazy, and, at my age, I dare not venture out too far on my scooter, lest I land up with broken bones in hospital or, worse, lifeless in Vaikunth or Kailas crematoriums!

That’s what I sometimes do on these glorious trips of mine. Just jump into the first bus that comes along and let it take you wherever it goes. Go where life leads you. Last time I landed up in the heart of Pune – near Shaniwar Wada. In Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi it’s even more exciting, as there are so many more routes and choices, and you can serendipitously explore so many novel and exotic places you wouldn’t dream of going to otherwise.

The PCMT bus reaches the Railway Station. It’s a smooth ride. (PCMT buses seem to be better than PMT buses!).

I get down and admire the magnificent heritage stone building of Pune Railway Station. I stand in the porch and look inside. Trains, crowds – I love the atmosphere. On impulse, I enter, and stroll on the platform, panning my gaze all over, and stopping once in a while to feast my eyes on any attractive object that arrests my attention.

“Want a seat?” a porter asks.

“No,” I say.

“Where are you going?” he pursues.

“Nowhere,” I say.

“Waiting for someone,” he asks, probably in anticipation of porterage.

“No,” I say.

He stares at me for a moment and walks off with a look of perplexed dejection. I look around. Everyone is waiting to go somewhere, or for someone. I am waiting to go nowhere, and for nobody. So I walk out of the station and head for Shiv Kailash Milk Bar bang opposite.

If you arrive at Pune by train on a hot morning, never make the blunder of heading for the rickshaw stand. You’ll get all stressed up waiting in the never-ending queue and haggling with the rickshawallas trying to con you. Just cross the road to Shiv Kailash, sit under the shade on one of the stainless steel stools placed on the pavement, invigorate yourself with a tall glass of cool refreshing lassi (which is guaranteed to banish the depleting effects of the tiresome train journey) and tell the waiter to hail a rickshaw from the many hanging around. This is what I have been doing for so many years, during my numerous homecomings, since the days Pune was called Poona.

Shiv Kailash serves the best lassi in Pune. It’s almost as good as the one at Pehelwan in Varanasi. The lassi freshly made in front of you topped off with a generous dollop of soft fresh cream. It’s thick, lip-smacking, nourishing, and gives me a heavenly feeling. I sip slowly, relishing every mouthful, almost eating the delectable fluid after letting it perambulate on my tongue, as I watch the world go about it’s business outside. People come, gulp their lassis in a hurry, and rush away, while I blissfully savor each and every drop of the delicious lassi.

I walk leisurely towards Camp. Past Mira College, GPO, Zero Milestone, Police Headquarters, Nehru Memorial Hall, where I cross the Moledina Road admiring the imposing Lal Deval Synagogue, and turn left, past the place imperial Dorabjee Store Building used to be once. Now there is a huge shopping complex and a glitzy mall opposite. I reminisce. West End, New Empire, all the adorable landmarks gone – “Landmark” – what’s that? A swanky new music-cum-book store. I walk in. The place is swarming with chic salesgirls and salesboys. No one pays any attention to me. Maybe I blend well with the surroundings. I realize the tremendous advantages of obscurity and the benefits of anonymity. Had I been a “successful” person, rich and famous, or someone with a striking personality, people would notice me and I doubt I would have been able to enjoy myself with such carefree abandon. Only non-achievers like me can truly enjoy a life of carefree irresponsibility.

I roam around the ground floor music section. There are no music stations where you can listen to music – like they have in Rhythm House and Planet-M in Mumbai. So I go the first floor bookstore. It’s spacious, neatly laid out and looks impressive. The books are arranged subject-wise, clearly visible from anywhere. There are cushioned stools to sit and browse and also two long sofas below the huge tinted windows towards the far side. I start from the left. Food, Philosophy, Self-Help, Travel, Coffee Table, Erotica, Classics, Fiction, Computers, Children, Indian Writing – there are books on every topic you can think of. The tranquil ambiance is so soothing and conducive that I browse to my heart’s content, loosing myself into that wonderful state of timelessness I experience sometimes when I’m totally immersed into doing something I love.

By the time I leave Landmark, cerebrally satiated, it’s almost three in the afternoon, I’m hungry, and in desperate need of gastronomic satiation. So I walk past Manney’s, West End, turn right on Main Street, cross Aurora Towers, turn right, walk past ABN Amro Bank, and turn left on Dastur Meher Road, a walk leisurely towards Sarbatwala Chowk till I reach Dorabjee and Sons. I dive in through the low entrance and look around. The eatery is crowded, with noisy families bashing away regardless greedily devouring the heaps food before them. The mouth-watering aroma, and the sight of the appetizing food, creates in me such ravenous pangs of hunger that I quickly sit on the only vacant table and order a Mutton Biryani – the signature dish of Dorabjee.

As is the hallmark of specialty cuisine restaurants – the menu is select – just a few choice dishes a single page. There’s Sali, Curry, Masala and Biryani in Mutton and Chicken; Kheema, Brain, Eggs, and combinations thereof, cutlets in gravy, and a few Veg dishes, for appearance sake. On Sundays, you can have Dhansak, maybe on your way to the races in the season.

I spoon some Biryani onto my tongue, seal my lips, close my eyes, turn my senses inwards with full consciousness to imbibe and savor the unique medley of juices released by the succulent piece of mutton, the bitterish-sweet taste of the slightly burnt crisp fried onions, and the spicy flavorsome rice. It is superlative delicious authentic cuisine at its best. Dorabjee serves the best mutton biryani in Pune – no doubt about it.

The fervent atmosphere of the place and exquisite quality of the food is such that one eats enthusiastically, with wholehearted zest and gusto; not apologetically and self-consciously, as one tends to do, trying to be prim and proper, in highfalutin restaurants. At Dorabjee, you can enjoy every morsel of your food with passionate ardor. And as I reach blissful satiety I realize that a well-filled stomach radiates a kind of spiritual happiness.

The ideal way to end this rich spicy repast is to cool it off with a Falooda. So I walk down Sachapir Street, cross Main Street, and head for Badshah on East Street to down a deliciously sweet and chilled Rose flavored Royal Falooda. And then to Kayani, down East Street, to pick up some Shrewsbury Biscuits and Chocolate Walnut Cake.

I stand outside Kayani, wondering what to do. Maybe I can go to Manney’s and browse some more. If Landmark has got the ambiance, Manney’s got the books! And then just walk down Main Street admiring pretty looking things, till I’m tired and hungry. Maybe I’ll have some sandwiches, a roll and cold coffee at Marzorin. Or pastries and a softy at Pasteurs. Or a Burger at Burger King, or a Chopsuey at East End, down East Street. Maybe Kathi Rolls at Olympia, Chicken Masala at George, Chana Bhatura at Monafood, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Wafers at Budhani, or Sizzlers at The Place next to Manney’s, or one more Biryani at Blue Nile near the GPO. The possibilities are endless!

Or should I see the movie at Victory opposite, or at West End nearby. Maybe I’ll jump into the first bus I see and go wherever it goes. How about going for a long walk on Laxmi road into the heart of town? Or an idyll beside the river in Bund Garden, or Saras Baug, or Sambhaji Park? Or maybe I’ll just head home. The possibilities are endless! I am free to do whatever I choose to do! Loaf to my heart’s content! To continue to spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner!

You can take my word for it, dear reader. There is nothing you’ll enjoy more than loafing. It is when you cease to do the things you have to do, and do the things you like to do, and you want to do, that you achieve the highest value of your time. The freedom to enjoy life is the ultimate reward. Why should you defer happiness waiting for some elusive abstract rewards? What reward could be greater than a life enjoyed as it is lived?

If you do not find happiness as you are, where you are, here and now, you will never find it. There is always plenty in life right now to enjoy for one who is determined to enjoy it. The feast of life is before you. Do you have the appetite to enjoy the feast of life? So my dear friend, discover the art of loafing, and you’ll redeem the art of living from the business of living.

The Art of Traveling, The Art of Happiness, The Art of Eating, The Art of Living and The Art of Loafing – inextricably intertwined, aren’t they, all in a foodwalk?

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

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Eating Out in Mumbai – Seafood

July 15, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA
By
VIKRAM KARVE

You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants. Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names. But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there? No! You haven’t? Doesn’t matter. Come with me on a Foodie trail. I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.

To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination. Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.

At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai. You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!

Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.

It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.

Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!

The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.

You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food. The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite! Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you’ll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.

Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.

But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close you eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.

At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal. And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing. It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.

Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. And do let us know how you enjoyed it!

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com
http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve
 

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A Delicious Day in Mumbai

July 12, 2007

A TRENCHERMAN TRAVELS IN THE HEART OF MUMBAI [Unmatched Value for Money (VFM) Vegetarian Food in the heart of Mumbai] By VIKRAM KARVE    Dear Fellow Foodie, would you like to come with me on a gastronomic tour and spend a delicious day in the heart of Mumbai? This time, let’s have pure vegetarian authentic value-for-money Indian cuisine. Next time we’ll venture out on a hard-core non-vegetarian eating adventure.   BREAKFAST  Mumbai is in Maharashtra. You will get all genres and varieties of cuisine in Mumbai, but tell me, where would you go for an authentic Maharashtrian breakfast? My favorite place is Vinay near Thakurdwar in Girgaum. When I used to stay at Churchgate, early in the morning, I used to walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Savitribai Phule Ladies Hostel, (the lane is called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge at the southern end of Charni Road Station on the Western Railway, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, and continue walking till I reached Vinay on my right.  Have you ever tasted a dish called Misal? If you want to know what an authentic Misal tastes like, try the Misal at Vinay’s. It’s the signature dish of the place and I don’t think anyone else serves a better Misal than Vinay of Girgaum. The place is always crowded and you may have to wait for a seat, but the sight of foodies voraciously eating and the gastronomic ambiance will help build up your appetite. The moment you sit down in the shiny bright eatery, with mirrors all around, order a Misal. Don’t delve too much on the contents, or the ingredients, which basically comprise an Usal, rassa (the spicy curry) and the garnish of sev, chiwda, farsan, onions, fresh corriander and green chillies, arranged in three tiers and served with a wedge of lemon. There are two bowls and spoons. Using both spoons, mix the contents thoroughly, squeeze the lemon, and eat. It’s hot, delicious; your tongue is on fire, my nose and eyes water – the true test of a genuine missal. Bash on regardless. (Never try to douse the appetizing zesty fire in your insides by sipping water or ruin the gastronomic experience by succumbing to a bite of pav or bread they may have the temerity to place alongside). Pav with Bhaji or Vada may be fine, but if you want to savor the genuine taste of misal, and experience the ‘proof’ of the real stuff, it would be tantamount to sacrilege to have pav with misal. If you like things less spicy try Dahi Misal. The sweet cool curds (dahi), fiery chillis, zesty onions and spicy crisp chiwda-shev provide an excellent contrasting symbiosis of tastes and flavors. If you do want to have something with pav, try the Patal Bhaji or Usal. Fresh soft bread drenched in the delicious gravies – it’s heavenly. You’ll find all the Maharashtrian specialties on the menu, including the Upas (Fast) food like sabudanyachi khichadi and wade, but you must go there and discover for yourself. There are quite a few exquisite preparations of pohe too. But remember to end with chilled piyush or mango lassi to savor a sweet end to a delightful repast. If you are looking for Authentic Value For Money pure Vegetarian Maharashtrian Cuisine in Mumbai, head for Vinay – and you will carry mouthwatering memories of the place forever. And if you know of a place that serves a better Misal, please be so good as to inform me.    LUNCH   If you are ravenously hungry on a busy afternoon in the heart Mumbai, head for Bhagat Tarachand (BT). To get there, walk up Kalbadevi Road from Metro, turn right at the Cotton Exchange, and to your left you will see a series of eateries named Bhagat Tarachand. All are equally good and serve similar food, so you can sample them one by one on your numerous visits and decide which one you like. You can also walk up from Crawford Market, through Zaveri Bazar, past the Gold Exchange and Mumbadevi Temple; or from Bhendi Bazar via Pydhonie down Kalbadevi Road. In case you live in the suburbs, get down at Charni Road station, walk down Thakurdwar Road and turn right at Bhuleshwar and walk past the Cotton Exchange. Don’t try to drive down – you’ll go crazy negotiating your way – and besides a brisk walk on a hot and humid Mumbai afternoon will build up a voracious appetite and rapacious thirst – sine qua non for total enjoyment of a delicious nourishing meal.  The first thing to do is to order a “beer bottle” of chilled chaas (buttermilk) to quench your thirst and soothe your parched throat. On your first visit sample the delectable thali comprising varied vegetable dishes, dal and melt-in-the-mouth chappaties. Once you are hooked on, on subsequent visits you can experiment with the variety of rotis and vegetarian delights in Bhagat Tarachand’s culinary repertoire. Each and every dish – the dal fry, paneer bhurji, methi malai mutter, bhindi, even baingan – is superb. Both tastewise and pricewise, Bhagat Tarachand is unmatched – it’s the best value for money vegetarian food in Mumbai. Once you have relished your hearty meal, leisurely stroll down (digestive walk) past the Cotton Exchange and Panjrapole towards Bhuleshwar, turn right on VP Road towards CP Tank and soon you will reach Bhaishankar Gaurishankar which serves the most delicious lip-smacking rasgullas in Mumbai. As the luscious heavenly syrupy delights melts in your mouth you will experience such a fantastic blissful ecstasy that words cannot describe. A perfect ending to a perfect meal!     DINNER   I’ve just had some Khichdi – no, not the yummy lip smacking sabudanya chi khichadi my wife gorges and devours by the plateful whenever she is “fasting” – but the Khichdi one is given to eat when one is convalescing. It’s supposed to be light on the stomach, gives you strength and helps you recuperate. My daughter is ill; hence the Khichdi. The Khichdi I just ate was awful – it was fatless; there was no pure ghee in it, as desired by my darling daughter. In fact, it was so tasteless and insipid that it brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of wholesome Khichdi I had savored at Khichdi Samrat on near CP Tank in Mumbai. To get there, walk up Kalbadevi Road from Metro, turn left at the Cotton Exchange, walk past Panjrapole towards Bhuleshwar, turn right on VP Road towards CP Tank, and soon on your right you will see Khichdi Samrat – an unpretentious down-to-earth eatery. In fact it’s so humble and modest that make sure you don’t miss it and walk on to CP Tank! It is a small place, but I always found a seat; maybe they send out more parcels than have patrons eating in situ. You can also walk up from Crawford Market, through Zaveri Bazar, past the Gold Exchange and Mumbadevi Temple, to Cotton Exchange; or from Bhendi Bazar via Pydhonie down Kalbadevi Road and turn right at the Cotton Exchange. In case you live in the western suburbs, take a train and get down at Charni Road station, climb the overbridge at southern [Churchgate] end, turn left, walk staright down Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, continue past Vinay [you’ll be tempted to hop in for a Misal!], turn left at Bhuleshwar on VP Road towards CP tank. When I used to stay at Churchgate, I used to walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Savitribai Phule Ladies Hostel, (the lane is called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge at the southern end of Charni Road Station on the Western Railway, walk briskly on to my destination. Don’t try to drive down – you’ll go crazy negotiating your way – and besides a brisk walk on a hot and humid Mumbai evening will build up in you a voracious appetite – quite conducive, in fact sine qua non, for total enjoyment of, and to do full justice to, the delicious nourishing fare you are going to partake of in Khichdi Samrat. Besides, your march through the crowded gritty bustling streets will prepare you for the gastronomic adventure. You’ll be surprised, but the first time I went to Khichdi Samrat, one Sunday evening, I didn’t have Khichdi [maybe because of my mental map associating Khichdi  as convalescence-food, or maybe because “Dal Bati” was listed on the menu board as a Sunday special and I was curious to sample this dish which I had never tasted till that day]. Tasty wheat flour balls in scrumptious dal with plenty of pure ghee – it was indeed delicious and satiating. There are ten varieties of Khichdi, ranging from the bland plain khichdi to the special dry fruit kichdi, and I have tried all of them, one on each visit, and I liked the Masala and Vrindavan Khichdis. Do embellish your khichdi with a papad of your choice. There is an impressive array of papads to choose from. To my delight, I found the other dishes on the menu like the Methi Malai Mutter, Koftas, Kurmas and Paneer gravies very delicious too, and so is the excellent satisfying thali with a medley of dishes. So, if you go there in a group, don’t restrict yourself to Khichdi. And don’t forget to try different rotis and parathas including those made of maka [corn], bajra and the delicious stuffed versions. Start off with a jal jeera, have chaas to accompany your meal, and end with a Gulab Jamun or Rabdi; or better still walk down to Bhaishankar Gaurishankar nearby to end your repast with some chilled soothingly-sweet rasagullas.  The next time you’re in the heart of Mumbai, do have a meal at Khichdi Samrat, and tell us all about it.   MIDNIGHT TREAT   It’s been a long long time since I’ve relished a bowl of “Green Chilli Ice Cream” but the zestful stimulating taste still lingers on my tongue. Never before had I enjoyed eating ice cream so much. It was indeed a unique and passionate eating experience. Let me tell you about it. I love ice cream. A friend of mine told me that there is a place opposite the Chowpatty Sea Face in Mumbai India that serves “green chilli” ice cream. I didn’t believe him. I have savored myriad flavours of ice cream but “green chilli ice cream” seemed a bit far fetched. On questioning, my friend confessed that he had only heard about it, not eaten it himself. The very concept of green chilli ice cream whetted my curiosity so much that at sunset I was standing in front of Bachelorr’s (that’s the spelling on the menu card) Ice Cream and Juice Stall, my appetite fully stimulated by a long brisk walk. It was there on the menu card – Green Chilli Ice Cream. I ordered it and walked with the bowl to a lonely bench nearby to enjoy the eating experience in glorious solitude. The ice cream looks a creamy pink (not chilli green as I had expected it to be). I close my eyes and smell the ice cream – a nice sweet milky fragrance, a bit fruity; certainly no trace of the piquant penetrating sting of chillies. With a tremor of trepidation I spoon a bit of the green chilli ice cream on my tongue. My taste buds are smothered by a sweet mellifluous sensation as the cold creamy ice cream starts melting on my tongue. I am disappointed, feel conned – it seems it was just hype. This is run of the mill stuff. Or is it? Wait a moment. As the ice cream melts away I suddenly feel a sharp piercing fiery taste that sizzles my tongue, stings through my nose and penetrates my brain. My tongue is on fire and, like instant firefighting, I instinctively spoon a blob of ice cream onto my tongue. The cool ice cream quenches my burning tongue with its almost ambrosial taste but the moment it melts away I am zipped like a rocket with the sharp punch of the green chillies. So that was the art of eating green chilli ice cream. Hot and cold. Scorch and quench. Sting and soothe. Contrasting sensations. Like Alternating Current. Sharp tangy kicks burning through the cool syrupy sweetness till your system is fully perked up. And a trace of the biting tangy flavour of the green chilli remains within me for a long long time as I walk away. Green Chilli Ice Cream doesn’t satiate – it excites, stimulates, gives you a “kick”, zests you up. It’s a truly passionate delight. I searched for it everywhere in Pune, but couldn’t get it. So I’ll have to wait for my next trip to Mumbai to enjoy my favourite zesty ice cream again! Bachelorr’s has many other exciting and different flavors too, but I love Green Chilli. Dear fellow Foodies, the next time you are in Mumbai, head for Chowpatty at midnight and end your delicious day relishing a bowl of green chilli ice cream. And let me know if you liked it.    VIKRAM KARVE  http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com  https://vwkarve.wordpress.com  http://karve.wordpress.com  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve  http://www.ryze.com/go/karve  vikramkarve@sify.com  vikramkarve@hotmail.com                 

MUMBAI BY NIGHT – EATING OUT

July 6, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA


By


VIKRAM KARVE

You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants. Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names. But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there? No! You haven’t? Doesn’t matter. Come with me on a Foodie trail. I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.

To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination. Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.

At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai. You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!

Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.
It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.

Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!

The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.

You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food. The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite! Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you’ll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.

Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.

But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close you eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.

At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal. And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing. It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.
Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. And do let us know how you enjoyed it!

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Cut and Let

July 6, 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