Archive for the ‘cake’ Category

AFLATOON – A Nourishing Winter Dessert

December 27, 2009

AFLATOON – A Nourishing Winter Dessert

A Rare Baked Delight

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Here is a recipe for Aflatoon – a rich fortified sweet ideal for winter. Aflatoon is a rare baked delight.

Cooking is more a qualitative art, rather than a quantitative science.

The other day, a friend of ours dropped home a packet of scrumptious Dharwadi Pedhas.

My dear wife [who does not believe in the dictum: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”] promptly put them in the fridge and forgot about it.

Now what greater inanity can be there than consigning fresh soft flavorsome mellifluous Pedhas to harden up in some remote cold corner of the fridge?

So when I first discovered the packet of cold hard Pedhas lying hidden deep inside my fridge during one of my surreptitious midnight raids, when my better half was fast asleep, I was first miffed, then improvising, decided to soften them up in my microwave oven.

I put a piece of warm softened-up Pedha in my mouth – Lo and Behold! – The Dharwadi Pedha had metamorphosed into a Lal Peda.

Yes, it tasted like genuine Banarasi Lal Peda with its unique wholesome “crispy roasted milky taste”. Now that’s serendipity. I’ve searched for Lal Peda all over but nothing could match the authentic Lal Peda I used to enjoy near Sankat Mochan in Varanasi.

I love sweets – especially Indian Sweets – Pedhas, Barfis, Rosogulla, Gulab Jamun, Kala Jamun, Cham Cham, Sandesh, Jilebi, Imrati, Son Papdi, Mysore Pak, Petha, Mahim Halwa, Malpua, Karanji, Anarse, Chirote, Lavang Lata, Ladoos – you name it, I love it – and one of favorites is a superb wholesome treat called “Aflatoon”.

Now the only place I’ve had Aflatoon is on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai, at Suleman Mithaiwala near Minara Masjid, and I think also at Zam Zam a little distance down the road.

Aflatoon not only satisfies your sweet-tooth; it provides rich nourishment and is blissfully satiating too.

I’m in Pune now.

Like my search for Lal Peda, my search for Aflatoon also remained elusive, so I decided to improvise and hope for the best.

Now remember, My Dear Reader, I’m no great cook, nor am I a high-falutin connoisseur, nor a culinary expert; I’m just a simple down-to-earth trencherman, an avid foodie, so I asked around, searched around, explored, extrapolated, reverse-engineered, and here is what I improvised, a purely ingenious adventurous concocted experimental recipe.

[Try it at your own risk!].

First, with a fork, I thoroughly beat three fresh eggs till fluffy, added one cup [vati or katori] of sugar (add more if you like it sweeter) and then vigorously whisked away till all the sugar dissolved and the mixture was nice and fluffy.

I had already switched on my oven – yes, Aflatoon is a baked delight – one of the rare Indian sweets which are baked in an oven.

I rubbed pure ghee on the palms of my hands and kneaded half a kilo of fresh Khoya [khava, mawa made from buffalo milk] till it was slippery smooth.

Then I blended in and coalesced the Khoya into the feathery egg-sugar emulsion and whipped strongly with my hands till my wrists pained, and my biceps and triceps strained, and the khoya had fully dissolved and merged into the mélange and the fusion was complete, the rich blend velvety smooth.

Now in a plate, I mixed together one cup of rawa, half cup of maida, and a pinch of baking powder, and gently folded this mixture, spoon by spoon, into the egg-sugar-khoya amalgamation and robustly swirled and pasted the batter with my hands, till my hands got tired again and my muscles ached.

Here, there is no exact proportion of how much rawa- maida mixture is to be added to the batter; my hands tell me when to stop – later I can always add a bit as and when required to get the right baking consistency.

Now the interesting part – I lovingly blended in three katories or vaties [yes, three full cups – one cup per egg] of pure ghee and churned with my hands for a long time till the ghee fully dissolved into the delectable mixture, indiscernible.

Now here is the difference in sequence of ingredients – while baking a cake you start of with creaming the butter, than blend in the sugar, then eggs, then maida; here you start off with beating the eggs, then the sugar, the khoya, the rawa-maida flour, and now comes the pure ghee (clarified butter).

Hey, remember to lick your fingers from time to time and taste the delightful mélange at each stage and plus-minus the proportions accordingly.

Also, your fingers will tell you when the consistency is perfect.

That is why I never use mixers, blenders, juicers, measuring cups and all those hi-fi gadgets when preparing dough and batter for baked delights, or cooking dishes – I always rely on my own tongue to tell me the precise taste, use my hands to cream, blend, the concoction to the right consistency, improvise the ingredients and proportions accordingly – if you want to cook creatively, there is nothing to beat your own sensory perception, isn’t it?

And yes, don’t forget to use your nose too – food must be fragrant, appetizingly aromatic, besides looking deliciously mouthwatering and tempting to feel and touch!

Now I mixed in the spices – powdered jaiphal, dalchini, elaichi, lavang – and, while gently stirring with my hand, slowly poured in yummy thick creamy buffalo milk, about half a cup, till the consistency of the smooth paste becomes soft and silky, and ready for baking.

Remember to always have the rawa-maida flour ready in stand-by mode to even up the batter, if required.

Then I mix in kismis, manuka, crushed pasted khajur, squeezing my fingers.

Oh, just a minute, I thoroughly mix in a few drops of vanilla essence to make even the slightest trace of the smell of eggs go away.

Finally I embellish with crushed dry fruit like badam, pista, kaju etc.

I now pour in the rich creamy dough into pure-ghee greased baking trays and bake it in my conventional pre-heated oven at medium heat till the characteristic mouthwatering aroma wafts through the kitchen and the Aflatoons looked appetizingly brown.

With all the khoya, creamy milk and rich ingredients it sometimes takes almost an hour or so to be done. Time doesn’t matter, when cooking, as in eating, I like to be unhurried – the slower the cooking the tastier the food. I always like to keep the heat moderate and my senses, especially olfactory, alert.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

I was dying to sample the result of my culinary experiment, so I didn’t even wait till it cooled – Oh yes, it tasted wholesome, sumptuous, appetizing, good.

Just imagine if you fortify milk-cake with eggs, enrich it, spice it up, and roast it well – that’s the nearest I can describe how aflatoon tastes.

I wonder if aflatoon can be made by roasting it on a tawa instead of baking it!

I relished my homemade “aflatoon” – but then nothing can beat the original aflatoon for which I’ll have to head to Mumbai.

Till then, I’ll keep savoring these – I’m sure with all the pure ghee imbibed in them these aflatoons will last for days – provided I keep them hidden away from craving children and other insatiable trenchermen like me!

Dear Reader, and fellow Foodie – why don’t you too improvise, be creative, experiment, use your own ingredients and proportions, conjure up your very own aflatoon, savor it, try it out on your family and friends, and tell us all about it.

And if you happen to live in Mumbai, why take all this trouble – just go ahead and relish the original.

Happy Baking!

Dear Reader and Fellow Foodie: For more such appetizing dishes do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL, a treatise on The Art of Eating, Easy to Cook Recipes and Foodie Adventures in Pune and Mumbai.

Click the links below to know more about this delicious book:
http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o

Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

Appetite for a Stroll

vikramkarve@sify.com


http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

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A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE – MOMO Cafe Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi Pune

August 10, 2009

A CLEAN WELL-LIGHTED PLACE

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place!”

That’s the first thought that instantly comes to my mind the moment I enter Courtyard’s MoMo Café on Saturday afternoon.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is the title of my favourite Ernest Hemingway Short Story – the phrase depicts the café where the story is set.

Well that’s what MoMo Café is – a Clean Airy Well Lighted Spacious Friendly café with wonderful feel-good ambience and superb food, tasteful décor and pleasant aesthetics which make you feel fresh, cheerful, comfortable and relaxed. Yes, the bright vibes of the place certainly lift my spirits and make me feel good the moment I enter the lobby of Courtyard.

We walk in the spacious “courtyard”, past MoMo 2 Go, the “to go” grab and go deli, stocked with tempting baked delights, for those in a hurry.

Well, I am not in a hurry, so I leisurely stroll past the spic-and-span counter adorned with tempting goodies and the appetizing buffet spread. There are pickles, in traditional jars, a mix and match and toss your own salad counter, and soups and broths. Everything is so visually pleasing that I can sense the appetite being built up inside me.

It is heartening to see the immaculate open display kitchen – it always feels reassuring to see your food being cooked in front of you with impeccable standards of hygiene and quality.

I look around. MoMo Café is a happy place and the seating is comfortable, ample, user-friendly and well-designed.

It is a leisurely Saturday afternoon cosmopolitan crowd comprising a delightful assortment – joyful families, young IT executives, couples, singles, friends, business guests, eager foodies, relaxed tourists and cosy friends spending a leisurely afternoon over a chilled beer, a tasty bite and snug conversation. There is plenty of space, there is plenty of light, freshness in the air, and everyone, the kids and the adults, seems to be having a pleasant time, enjoying the food and the friendly atmosphere.

A discerning yet innovative menu features an imaginative choice of select dishes from a variety of cuisines, from the Orient and the Occident, ranging from starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to Kebabs and an astute selection of traditional Indian dishes, sumptuous main course delicacies, and exclusive desserts to round off your meal. Despite the impressive array of multi-cuisine, it is a short and sweet uncluttered concise well thought-out menu – a sure sign of a restaurant that takes its food seriously.

We are wondering what to order, when Subhash, the Executive Chef, joins us, so we leave it to him to do the honours. He asks to select anything we fancy from the impressive array of dishes laid out for the lunch buffet and then we’ll try his recommendations from the a-la-carte menu.

I pick up some Seafood Broth – it’s non-spicy with a combination of seafood and lots of vegetables and nourishing, just like a basic Seafood Broth ought to be. The buffet seems to be very popular perhaps because the spread is so elaborate and I wonder what to sample. I start off with some bhuna gosht – it is excellent – succulent flavoursome pieces of mutton in luxuriant gravy. The scrumptious Mustard Fried Fish and Stroganoff tempt me to try out the whole buffet lunch but Subhash has already ordered a pizza from their wood fired pizza oven – I’ll only say this: The thin crust pizza is probably the best pizza I have ever tasted – it’s light, the crust melts in the mouth and allows the tongue to fully relish the taste of sauce, cheese and delectable toppings.

“Let’s have a Momo,” I say, harking back to mouth-watering memories of my Shillong days when I first relished the yummy wholesome Momo. At first I thought that maybe MoMo Café was a Momo place but Vyshnavi and Subhash educate me – the name MoMo Café exemplifies the concept of Modern Living and Modern Eating. But surely, isn’t it apt that MoMo Café has Momos on its menu – maybe next time!

Subhash orders Nasi Goreng for me and Conchiglie Pasta for my darling vegetarian wife. There is an interesting choice of wines, spirits and cocktails, but we prefer freshly squeezed orange juice as an accompaniment.

We are indeed fortunate to have an opportunity to interact with Subhash who is a veritable human encyclopaedia on wining and dining and all things culinary. The enlightening “foodie” conversation is sheer delight and Subhash’s  sincere love of food, passion for cooking and impressive repertoire of culinary knowledge enhance the eating experience and make our meal even more appetizing and intellectually stimulating.

The Nasi Goreng, Spicy Prawn Fried Rice with soft fried egg and Chicken Satay, is lip-smacking and fulfilling. I have a bite of the vegetarian Conchiglie Pasta too, savouring its inimitable taste of spinach in basil flavoured sauce, as Subhash explains the intricacies – the foam and the way this delicate dish is made.

For dessert, we have Tiramisu, the pièce de résistance of the meal. MoMo Café’s inimitable signature Tiramisu is marvellous – a fitting climax to a splendid meal. Subhash tells us it is a non-alcoholic Tiramisu, to cater to children and local preferences, but let me tell you that it is the best Tiramisu I have ever had and the delightful symbiosis of delectable tastes lingers within me for a long long time.

I will cherish mouth-watering memories of this lovely Saturday afternoon forever. I am sure MoMo Café is going to be a hit, a boon to the foodies of Pune, due to its unique location, superb food, vibrant ambience, impeccable standards of hygiene and quality, and the warm and friendly service.

I am certainly going to eat at MoMo Café again. And this time I am going to check out the Indian Cuisine. I’ll start with melt-in-the-mouth dissolve-on-your-tongue Galawat Kebab, savour a Nalli Nihari – let’s see how it compares with the authentic versions of this luscious fortifying breakfast dish I’ve relished in the heart of Delhi and Mumbai. Then I’ll try some Dum Biryani and end with a soothing Kulfi Falooda.

A true Foodie eats twice, first in his mind’s eye, and then with his taste buds. So whenever a Foodie ventures out to a new place he builds up some expectations – MoMo Café certainly exceeded my expectations in all aspects and we thoroughly enjoyed the overall dining experience.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL


http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

APPETITE FOR A STROLL Foodie Adventures, Simple Recipes, Musings on The Art of Eating and Vikram Karve’s Authentic Guide to Value For Money Food in Mumbai and Pune

November 30, 2008

APPETITE FOR A STROLL 

[Foodie Adventures, Simple Recipes, Musings on The Art of Eating and Vikram Karve’s Authentic Guide to Value For Money Food in Mumbai and Pune]


By


VIKRAM KARVE

 

I have recently written a Foodie Adventures Book – Appetite for a Stroll.

Please click the link and read the review of Appetite for a Stroll titled Food for Soul in the Indian Express [Pune] Sunday 7th September 2008 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/358363.html

expressonline book review

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

 

If you want to get a copy of the book just click the links below:

 

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

I am sure you will enjoy reading the book, the delicious food at all the value for money eateries and cooking the recipes.


Happy Reading and Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

A Yummy Indian Cuisine – Dabba Gosht – Recipe

October 8, 2007

Want to try dabba gosht – just click the link below

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/dabba-gosht-my-all-time-favorite.htm

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Aflatoon – an inimitable sweet, an easy recipe

October 4, 2007

My improvised recipe for aflatoon:

 Just click the link below and read on my creative writing blog

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/aflatoon.htm

Happy eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Musings

August 1, 2007

BOOK REVIEWS AND MUSINGS BY VIKRAM KARVE ON THE ART OF LIVING

My name is Vikram Karve. I’m 50 and live in Pune, India. I love reading, writing and blogging and have a philosophical attitude towards life. Here are a few links to my musings on various aspects of the art of living. I trust you will enjoy and derive benefit by reading them. Do send me your comments and feedback to:


vikramkarve@sify.com


vikramkarve@hotmail.com

THE ART OF LIVING


Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG
[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/01/the-art-of-living.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-art-of-living/

THE ART OF HAPPINESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-art-of-happiness-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/01/happiness.htm

THE ART OF EATING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-art-of-eating.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/the-art-of-eating-by-vikram-karve/

HOW I QUIT SMOKING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/how-i-quit-smoking.htm

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/how-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

THE DAY AFTER I QUIT SMOKING

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/29/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/the-day-after-i-quit-smoking.htm

DO YOU WANT TO QUIT DRINKING?

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/force-field-analysis-helps-you-quit-drinking/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/want-to-quit-drinking-.htm

TIME MANAGEMENT – SPEND TIME ADD VALUE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/time-management.htm

A SENSE OF VALUES

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/08/a-sense-of-values-by-vikram-karve/

THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

http://karve.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/the-map-is-not-the-territory-by-vikram-karve/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-map-is-not-the-territory.htm

THE SWEET CHILLIES

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

COOSING THE RIGHT CAREER

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/choosing-the-right-career.htm

EPICTETUS – THE ART OF LIVING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-art-of-living-a-book-review–2.htm

80/20 LIVING

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-book-review-80-20-principle.htm

A TEACHING STORY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

BOOK REVIEW – A SOLDIER’S STORY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/book-review-a-soldier-s-story.htm

ORIENTAL STORIES – A FASCINATING BOOK

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/a-fascinating-book.htm

KNOW YOUR VALUES FOR HAPPINESS AND HARMONY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/know-your-values-for-harmony-and-happiness.htm

HURRY SICKNESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/hurry-sickness.htm

BIBLIOTHERAPY

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/bibliotherapy.htm

LIFE PROCESS OUTSOURCING (LPO)

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/life-process-outsourcing-lpo.htm

BOOK REVIEW – THE PETER PRINCIPLE AND PETER PRESCRIPTION

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/book-review-the-peter-prescription-the-peter-principle.htm

ETHICAL FITNESS

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/07/ethical-fitness-2.htm

THOUGHT CONTROL

http://karve.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/be-happy-and-healthy/

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/monday-morning-rumination.htm

HAIKU

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/haiku-minerva-moment-by-vikram-karve.htm

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/12/the-art-of-eating-an-affair-to-remember-by-vikram.htm

MANAGEMENT OF THE ABSURD – A book review

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/management-of-the-absurd.htm

MAHARSHI KARVE – BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

http://karve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/maharshi-karve-books-on-his-life-and-times.htm


TEACHING STORIES

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/two-teaching-stories.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-sweet-chillies.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/a-room-with-a-variable-climate.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-4-by-vikram-karve-on-teachers.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/09/teaching-stories-part-3-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories-part-2-by-vikram-karve.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/08/teaching-stories.htm

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2005/10/a-teaching-story-by-vikram-karve.htm

I enjoyed writing these articles. I hope you enjoy reading them and look forward to your feedback. I’ll keep on posting.

VIKRAM KARVE
Pune India

vikramkarve@sify.com


vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

 

 

Bake a Cake – 3/4 : 1: 11/2

August 1, 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

             

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

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

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

   

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

   http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

     

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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