Archive for July 6th, 2007

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
 

GULAB JAMUN

July 6, 2007

THE ART OF EATING A GULAB JAMUN

by

VIKRAM KARVE

The art of eating comprises three cardinal steps :

First you learn or come to know about good food – you hear from someone, read somewhere, or come across while browsing the net or from TV or the media or even from a menu card .

Next you go there and observe people eating and relishing the delectable cuisine you have heard so much about – see the way they are eating and enjoying themselves. The expression of divine pleasure on their faces. This tempts you to taste and savor the cuisine yourself.

And then you actually order the food you have been yearning for, delicately put a piece in your mouth, and actually experience the pleasures of eating the delicacy, firsthand.

One evening I suddenly feel an urge, a craving, a desperate sort of yearning, for my favourite sweet – The “Gulab Jamun”.

I believe that if you want to be happy you must fulfill such feasible and viable desires at once, here and now, so I put on my walking shoes, cross the Oval – the Rajabai Tower Clock is striking Six – turn right at the Mumbai University gate, and then left, and walk towards Kalaghoda, turn right towards Colaba Causeway which is a foodies’ delight and soon reach my destination – Kailas Parbat – at the southern end of Colaba Causeway.

I have heard from my friends that Kailas Parbat is the best place in Mumbai for Gulab Jamuns. I have enjoyed delectable Gulab Jamuns at many places – at Pachkuin Road in Delhi, Pehelwan at the end of Lanka in Banaras, and even in a place called Dumka in the back of the beyond – but now amongst the people eating Gulab Jamun at Kailas Parbat, I see a veteran, a connoisseur, relishing it with such satisfaction that I go to the counter and order a Gulab Jamun myself.

Just one hot mouth-watering Gulab Jamun in a liberal amount of thick syrup. It’s nice and hot – Gulab Jamuns must be eaten hot – and very soft and juicy. I spoon a small luscious piece and place it delicately on my tongue and close my eyes to enhance the quality of the gustatory experience – whenever you want to enjoy good food just close your eyes, concentrate on your tongue and notice the feeling.

I just leave the succulent Gulab Jamun piece on my tongue for a while to let the hot sweet viscous syrup permeate deep into my taste-buds, and the moment I gently roll my tongue, the Gulab Jamun disintegrates, dissolves and melts in my mouth releasing its delicious cardamom tinged flavor and soothing rose fragrance within me. I eat slowly, deliberately, eyes closed, savoring every moment, relishing the divine taste, prolonging the heavenly experience – it’s epicurean delight of the highest order.

As I walk back home in state of supreme bliss, the lingering taste of the delicious Gulab Jamun remains within me for a long long time.

Even now as I write this, I can almost sense the delicious taste and enchanting fragrance of the heavenly Gulab Jamun. And my mouth begins to water!

But alas, I’m in Pune right now! Dear Reader – Would you be so good as to tell me where I can savour a delicious Gulab Jamun in the city of Pune.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

https://vwkarve.wordpress.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com