Archive for the ‘aundh’ Category

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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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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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

Book Review – Pune Food Guide

June 27, 2007

Book Review – TIMES PUNE FOOD GUIDE 2007

[Reviewed by Foodie Vikram Karve]

I believe that if you want to write about food you must actually eat it. Being a passionate Foodie is probably more important than being a competent journalist. First hand gastronomic experience is sine qua non for a food guide or restaurant review. That’s why, when I read in the Pune Times supplement of today’s Times of India that, in the compilation of Times Food Guide 2007, in order to give a perfect picture of the Pune’s culinary scene, they had sent out food inspectors who visited restaurants incognito to sample and rate the food, I rushed out to the nearest Crossword bookstore in Aundh and bought the book.

With its eye-catching red cover, attractive get up, convenient size [a food guide must fit in your pocket and be easy to carry around during your foodwalks], and reasonable price, my first impression was quite favourable. It’s comprehensive, alphabetically compiled, well collated, aptly indexed, easy on the eye and pleasing to read, with helpful maps at the end. All in all, a delightfully compact food guide with superb production quality befitting the prestigious Times of India group who have published this pioneering Pune food guide.

It was only when I tried to find my favourite eateries that I was shocked by the glaring omissions. How could the incognito food inspectors have missed out all time Puneri favourites like Janaseva Dughda Mandir the ultimate Puneri Snacks place on Laxmi Road, Purepur Kolhapur, Durga and Nagpur of Sadashiv Peth, Ramnath and Bedekar Misal, Badshahi Boarding, Sweet Home, Ganu Shinde Ice Cream, Sujata and Gujar Mastani House, Olympia Kathi Rolls, Radio Restaurant, East End Chinese, Kalpana Bhel, Spicer Bakery famous for its inimitable delectable lip smacking Lamingtons, Ambika and New Ambika Amrututulya Teashops serving ambrosial tea, et al? And, please tell me, have Khyber, Eddie’s Kitchen, Kabir’s, Poona Goan, Santosh Bhavan, and Latif closed down? Does Café Sunrise still exist? By the way, my all time favourite Marz-O-Rin on Main Street is certainly not a roadside joint as categorized in the index. It’s a decent respectable family place. And Manmeet too, the chaat place on FC Road, is a decent eatery with proper seating. What about Radhakrishna caterers? And Shreyas’s cozy new branch on Satara Road opposite Panchami which also does not find a mention? And the excellent restaurants in hotels like Raviraj, for example? And back of the beyond places like Thomson in Navi Sangvi for Kerala cuisine, Mahableshwar in Baner for Butter Chicken, Sadanand on the Katraj byepass for Dabba Gosht, and Babumoshai on Aundh Road for Lavang Lata and Bengali Sweets.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be critical and it is certainly not my intention to belittle the great effort that has gone into the making of this pioneering food guide to Pune, but then one has very high expectations from a publication from the highly esteemed Times of India group.

I’m glad I bought the Times Food Guide Pune 2007. It is a superb user-friendly guide covering a wide range of cuisines, and featuring many new places, especially in the upcoming suburbs of Pune. If this food guide is targeted at the newly arrived IT professionals, the high-falutin crowd of “restless achievers”, the rich hip and happening students flocking to Pune, visiting tourists, and the cosmopolitan elite living in posh suburbs like Kalyaninagar, Kondhwa, Aundh etc, it is certainly an excellent and informative compilation. But is it fair to ignore the fast dwindling diehard Punekar and the unique Puneri cuisine?

I’ve tasted better Chinese food in Kolkata, Mughlai Cuisine in Delhi, Irani, Continental and Multicuisine Mumbai, Biryani in Hyderabad and Lucknow, Chaat and Chola Bhatura in the north, Vindaloo and Fish Curry in Goa, and Dosas and Chettinad cuisine in the south, but where else but in Pune will you get the inimitable heritage Puneri Cuisine? A little more focus on traditional Puneri and Maharashtrian cuisine would certainly have made this Pune Food Guide more comprehensive and complete.

I wish that, for their next edition, the editors choose true blue Punekars with culinary knowledge, sensitive taste buds and cast iron stomachs as the incognito foodie inspectors who will dare to delve deep into the heart of the city, the nooks and crevices of the peths, and the underbelly of camp, and discover for us the best eateries serving the signature food of Pune and Maharashtra. For starters, I suggest they take a foodwalk on Laxmi Road starting from Alaka Chowk to Camp, delving into gallis and by-lanes and exploring the peths on either side. And then fan out all over Pune on a gastronomic trail. A section on Club-Food served at the many excellent clubs and institutes would be most welcome.

There is no greater love than the love of eating. Food reviews must be written with passion and candour, be exciting, and create in the reader strong gastronomic emotions. Most of the food reviews in this guide appear perfunctory and generic in nature. They don’t create in the reader the zest for eating! I feel that a good food review must mention the signature dish of the place, recommend specific cuisine, and describe the eating experience in its entirety, make one’s mouth water and trigger a zealous desire for eating, or otherwise. Take the review on Café Good Luck, for example. Surely Good Luck is not a mere run of the mill Irani Bun Maska – Chai – Mutton Masala place. How about letting readers know about the unique Mutton Cutlet Curry, matchless Biryanis, spicy yummy Tawa Goshts, and other specialties of the place. Have the writers actually savored the SPDP at Vaishali? Or relished the Shepherd’s Pie, Roast Chicken Supreme and Blueberry Pudding at Polka Dots? And remember, if it’s Bhavnagri, or Karachi, it’s the irresistible Sev Barfi!

One must tell the readers what to eat, the specialties of the place, and describe the restaurant, it’s background, and the eating experience a little bit more passionately, and enthusiastically, like has been so nicely done in the write-up on Arthur’s Theme Restaurant – it made my mouth water and I feel like rushing there right now – I’m sure the incognito food inspectors had a delightful meal at Arthur’s! Also the reviews on the bars and pubs are much more spirited – no prizes for guessing why!

As one peruses the guide one realizes that Pune is fast becoming a culinary melting pot of cuisine from all over the world. The writers need to be congratulated and commended for their excellent compilation of so many new exciting eateries, especially in the newly developing neighborhoods. There is so much new information. I was quite sad when my favourite non-veg eatery Aasra in Shukrawar Peth closed down. Now I learn from this guide that its namesake an Aasra Lunch Home exists in Chinchwad. I wonder whether it serves the same stimulating fiery nose watering Maharashtrian Mutton Rassa? Well I’m going to find out pretty soon! And I’m going to try out all the value-for-money College Canteens too – this is indeed a novel and innovative listing I have not seen in any other food guide.

This wonderful food guide is going to be my constant companion as I set forth on my gastronomic exploration of my beloved city of Pune. I strongly recommend that every food-loving Punekar get a copy of this handy and informative food guide too. Happy Eating!

DETAILS OF THE BOOK REVIEWED

Title: TIMES FOOD GUIDE PUNE 2007
Published by Ravi Dhariwal for Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd. New Delhi
ISBN: 81-89906-09-7
Pages: 232
Price: Rs. 100/-
Easily available at all book stores.

Reviewed by:

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Biryani

June 27, 2007

MY FAVORITE PLACES FOR BIRYANI

By

VIKRAM KARVE

When I was a small boy living in Pune in the sixties, there were only two places where I liked the Biryani: Dorabjee in Pune Camp and Good Luck at Deccan.

Now, there are a dime a dozen restaurants serving oily, greasy, fiery-hot and over-spiced concoctions of rice masquerading as Biryani. A good Biryani must be savory, not spicy; fragrant, not pungent; it should make your stimulate and titillate your tongue, not set it on fire, make your mouth water, not your nose and eyes!

As far as Poona (Pune) is concerned, even today, I think it’s only Dorabjee in Camp and Good Luck at Deccan that serve the good Biryani in Pune. Dorabjee’s mutton biryani, with its succulent spicy tasty mutton with a garnish of burnt onions is easily the best, most tasty, and flavorsome biryani in town. In case you have come across some other place, do let me know.

On first impressions, how do you judge a Biryani? Try the spread test. Pick a little biryani in your fingers and sprinkle it on an empty plate. The grains of rice must not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of meat to must be succulent, clear and dry, not greasy. Then lift the plate and smell the pieces of meat – it must be slightly aromatic (the fragrance and aroma of marinated spices) not sharp or piquant.

At Hyderabad, the home of Biryanis, I’ve tried many – Madina, Shadab, Alpha, Azizia – but my favorite is Paradise in Secunderabad.

I’ve enjoyed many a decent Biryani while traveling on the railways, especially the South Central railway at places like Guntakal and Vijaywada, but the best was a surprise Malabari Biryani (embellished with a boiled egg)which I picked up on the run from the refreshment room at Ernakulam, Kerala.

Vizag too has many good biryanis, of which, I remember the one at Alkapuri near Jagdamba junction. I’ve had many not so memorable biryanis in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and a few other places.

In Mumbai, there is Delhi Darbar, Lucky, Shalimar, Fountain Plaza and Stadium, near Churchgate Station, but my all time favorite is Olympia on Colaba Causeway. They have both Mutton and Chicken Biryani, but it’s Olympia’s Chicken Biryani that I relish the most. Yes, in my opinion, Olympia serves the perfect chicken biryani.

I used to go for a nice long walk in the evening, and when I was truly famished, I used to walk into Olympia and order half a plate of Chicken Biryani. Olympia is a no nonsense eatery with fast turnover and the biryani comes instantly. It looks fresh and appetizing, and will pass the “spread test” with flying colors.

My mouth waters. Generous scrumptious chicken, tasty rice, a bit of the fried potato – it’s delicious. I do not have words to describe the delightful experience. I squeeze just a tiny drop of lemon in my glass of water and drink. This enhances the aftertaste as I walk home feeling invigorated and happy. Olympia has lots on its menu, but for me it’s always Chicken Biryani.

My favorites: Dorabjee in Pune for Mutton Biryani and Olympia in Mumbai for Chicken Biryani.

I love Biryani. Can anyone please tell me of some new places where I can enjoy real good biryani?

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

TV AND THE TRENCHERMAN

June 27, 2007

TV and the Trencherman

 

By

 

Vikram Karve

 

 

 

 

I try to masquerade as a connoisseur of good food, a gourmet, but in actual fact I am somewhat of a trencherman – a down to earth foodie with a hearty appetite who loves eating simple authentic earthy food. That’s why I prefer to prowl the streets and peep into kitchens in perpetual search of the real wholesome tasty stuff rather than wine and dine in high-falutin restaurants serving gourmet cuisine.

 

Right now, it’s raining cats and dogs, and confined indoors in this back of beyond outskirt of Pune, I’ve just finished watching “Zaika India” – a foodie programme hosted by Vinod Dua on NDTV India. The very sight of the Delhi’s delicious street food – seekh and boti kababs, nihari, biryani, stew and korma at Karim’s, phirnee and habshi mithai, prince paan and a glimpse of Moti Mahal not only brought back mouthwatering memories but also gave me immense vicarious epicurean delight. Last week Vinod Dua foodwalked the streets of Mumbai, starting with the sampling of kababs, nihari, meats and sweets like the incomparable aflatoon and heavy duty malpua near Minara Masjid on Mohammed Ali Road and ending up with the inimitable green chilli ice cream at Bachellor’s opposite Chowpatty.

 

I really enjoy watching Zaika India and am looking forward to more with great expectations. I only wish Vinod Dua slows down a bit and delves more deeply into the food.

 

As of now, my favourite foodie TV programme is “The Foodie” on Times Now TV. For a year or so now, Kunal Vijayakar has kept us enthralled by his gastronomic adventures all over India, even exploring into the inferiors and the mofussil areas in search of our glorious culinary heritage. He shows us the food being cooked, which enhances the enjoyment and learning experience, but it is the expressions of genuine passion on his face, as he devours the freshly cooked delights, that leave the foodies hungering for more. His episodes on Lucknow, Udipi, Kolkata, Amritsar, Punjab, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kurseong, Darjeeling, and the recent one on Pondicherry,were truly mouthwateringly memorable.  The ‘Tea’ dishes of Kurseong, Kababs of Lucknow, Prawn Palmyra (tadgola?) of Pondicherry, and Butter Chicken and Fish Amritsari of Amritsar were unforgettable. I wonder when his gastronomic adventures are going to take him to Bihar, East UP, Varanasi, Kolhapur, Vidharbha, Orissa, Coastal Andhra and many other such places yet to be explored by The Foodie.

 

I enjoyed the Kerala and Mumbai episodes of the recently started “Secret Kitchen” by Bikramjit on CNN IBN and wait in eager anticipation for what’s going to come up in this interesting out of the ordinary programme.

 

“A Matter of Taste” by Vir Sanghvi, on Travel and Living, has got the royal touch. Fine dining in royal style though he did hit the streets of Delhi researching ‘Indian-Chinese’ cuisine.

 

I loved “Good Food” on NDTV by the vivacious and lively Seema Chandra who gave us a peep into high society and celebrity kitchens. She too seems to be an ardent foodie and her face lights up as she relishes food. As a Foodie hostess she rightly displays more interest in the eating, rather than the cooking, of the delicious dishes. I couldn’t catch up with this programme of late – have they taken it off or have the timings changed?

 

And of course I watch all the lip smacking food shows like Planet Food, Floyd’s India, Bordain, Taste of India by Padmalakshmi, Madhur Jaffrey’s show et al on Travel and Living and BBC, and Mejwani and Khavaiyya on the Marathi channels. And of course I never miss the pioneering “Khana Khazana” by Sanjeev Kapoor.

 

I love watching foodie programmes on TV.

 

The greatest love is the love of food [even if it is eaten vicariously!]

 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

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

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

 

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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

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

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

  

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

  vikramkarve@sify.com     

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



vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Bake a Cake – ¾: 1: 1 ½

May 25, 2007

¾: 1: 1 ½ 

By 

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

 

 

 

 

“ ¾ : 1 : 1 ½ ” – what’s that? No, it’s not what you think – it’s not a code or some mathematical formula. It’s the recipe for a simple cake – probably the first thing I learnt to cook. 

It’s simple. Take ¾ [three-fourth] vati [ katori or cup] of fresh butter, cream it till fluffy with your hand, add 1 [one] vati of sugar and whisk vigorously till the sugar and butter blend smoothly, whip three eggs till they fluff up into peaks, fold into the butter-sugar mixture carefully, and beat with your hand till the batter emulsifies nicely. 

Sieve 1 ½ [one and a half] vaties [katories] of maida [flour] with a teaspoon of baking powder and keep ready in a thali. 

In a glass pour a generous “tot” of full-bodied dark rum – the more darker and more mellower the rum the better – as it will have more caramel which will impart an inimitable heavenly bitter-sweet flavor blended with the richly aromatic enveloping tang of molasses. 

Now start adding, by the tablespoonful, the sieved maida to the butter-sugar-egg emulsified batter, gently folding in and smoothing in with your fingers, and alternately, from time to time add a few “drops” by the teaspoonful of the full-bodied dark rum, licking your fingers from time to time, rolling on your tongue, sampling and tasting at every step, till you get the right creamy consistency and taste. I love to mix in a wee bit of powdered spices like cinnamon, cardamom or cloves – innovate as per your mood and taste. 

Now bake your cake. The rum will guarantee that the cake does not flop and the hot spicy alcohol vapor escaping from the cake and perambulating within the oven will impart a tantalizing aroma and enticing fragrance to the cake. 

This cake tastes best when eaten hot – as the blissful fresh vapors overwhelm your palate with their zesty fragrance and full-bodied flavor. 

This is the first recipe I learnt from my mother when I was a small boy [The “rum” innovation came a bit later]. I used stainless steel vaties, if you don’t have them use cups. Don’t be too finicky about precise proportions, sample and taste at every step; and of course trust the rum to do the rest! 

I bake it in half an hour and it tastes heavenly. Baking a cake is so simple, isn’t it? Just remember simple recipe –  “ ¾  : 1 : 1 ½ ”    

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

  

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

vikramkarve@sify.com 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com