Archive for the ‘chicken’ Category

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

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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 – A Hearty Meal from the Heart of India – MOUTHWATERING KOLHAPURI MEMORIES

April 11, 2009

A Hearty Meal from the Heart of India

 

It is really hot in Pune and this afternoon I had a real “hot” Kolhapuri meal which brought back mouthwatering memories of a similar “hot” meal I had relished two years ago.

Here is a excerpt from my Sulekha Blogprint Series Foodie book APPETITE FOR A STROLL

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

Purepur Kolhapur

Mouthwatering Memories of a Hearty Kolhapuri Meal

by

Vikram Karve

It’s a hot Sunday afternoon in Pune. I am voraciously hungry and am pining for a fulfilling meal. And what can be better than a wholesome authentic Kolhapuri meal to blissfully satiate my pangs of hunger?

So I proceed to my favourite Kolhapuri restaurant called “Purepur Kolhapur” near Peru Gate, the food district, in the heart of Pune City. It’s a Spartan no-nonsense eatery; the only thing conspicuous is the ‘Kolhapur zero-milestone’ outside the entrance which makes it easy to locate.

I saw a similar zero-milestone somewhere in Kothrud the other day and wonder whether a branch of “Purepur Kolhapur” is coming up there too!

There are just three main items on the menu – Mutton Taat (Thali), Chicken Taat, (which cost Rs. 75/- each), and Purepur Special Taat for a princely Rs. 120/- (I am told that the ‘Purepur Special’ contains everything the place has to offer!).

There is a flurry of activity and a large stainless steel taat is placed in front of me almost instantly.

The Purepur Special Thali comprises the following:

· A large bowl of thick chicken curry with four generous pieces of chicken.
· A plate of appetizingly crisp dark brown pieces of fried mutton liberally garnished with almost burnt deep fried onion strips.
· A Kheema Vati (Katori)
· A vati of Tambda Rassa ( Red Gravy)
· A vati of Pandhara Rassa (White Gravy)
· Kuchumber salad made of onions, ginger, coriander, green chillies and curds
· Lemon pieces
· A fresh piping hot chapatti (You can have bhakri if you want, but today I’m in a mood for a crisp hot crunchy chapatti splattered with pure ghee)
· A bowl of jeera rice garnished with crisp brown fried onion strips and cashew nuts.

I sip the pandhara rassa – it’s invigorating.

Next I spoon into my eager mouth a generous portion of mutton fry. It’s not melt-in-the-mouth stuff  (I think it is the inimitable Bolai mutton).

I chew slowly and savor the sweetish taste of the fried onions blended with the lively spiciness of the crisply fried mutton.

I dip a piece of the piping hot chapatti into the tambda rassa allowing it to soak in, place it on my tongue and chew it to a pulp until it practically swallows itself savouring the flavour till the very end. Exquisite!

Now using my right thumb and two fingers, I lovingly pick up a small piece of chicken from the gravy; delicately place it on my tongue and roll it against my palate.

I close my eyes, look inside, and focus on the succulent boneless chicken release it’s zesty juices and disintegrate. Yes, unlike the crispy fried mutton which need a vigorous chew to truly relish its deliciousness, the chicken is soft and tender, almost melt-in-the-mouth.

I sample the Kheema Vati – it’s totally different from the Kheema I’ve tasted at Irani and Mughlai eateries. The Kheema has an unusual taste I can’t exactly describe – a bit sweet and sour– a counterbalancing contrast, perhaps.

Now that I’ve sampled everything in it’s pristine form, I squeeze a bit of lemon on the mutton and chicken and embellish it with kuchumber to give it the right tang, and from time to time I sip the wholesome pandhara rassa.

I thoroughly enjoy the confluence of contrasting tastes. In conclusion I mix everything with the rice and rejoice the riot of zesty flavours.

At the end, as I always do after all hearty spicy meals, I pick up a wedge of lemon and squeeze a bit of lemon juice into my glass of water and sip it down.

Believe me, it improves the aftertaste and lightens the post-meal heaviness sometimes caused by spicy Indian cuisine.

It’s an exciting, invigorating meal which perks me up and the sheer epicurean pleasure I experience makes up for the crowded, hassled ambience and indifferent service. Purepur Kolhapur is worth a visit for the quality and authenticity of its food.

For most of us “Kolhapuri” food has become synonymous with the “chilli-hot” self-styled, purported, ostensible Kolhapuri fare served in both high falutin and run-of-the-mill restaurants whose menus often feature dishes called “Chicken Kolhapuri” or “Vegetable Kolhapuri” which masquerade as Kolhapuri cuisine.

Kolhapuri cuisine is “spicy”, not “chilli-hot”, not “rich” and “fatty” – nothing exotic about it.

A Kolhapuri meal, unique in its simplicity, comprises a variety of lip-smacking, earthy, flavorsome, nourishing dishes and is so complete that it creates within you a inimitable hearty wholesome sense of fulfillment, and is a welcome change from the ubiquitous fatty and greasy-rich Makhanwalla, Masala, Kadhai, Handi, Naan, Biryani, the popular Punjabi and Mughlai fare you eat day in and day out. There is a world of a difference between pseudo- Kolhapuri and authentic-Kolhapuri food.

I do not know where you get genuine Kolhapuri cuisine in Mumbai, Delhi or any of the Metros.

When we visit Kolhapur, we eat at Opal.
I walked all over South Mumbai, experimented, tasted, sampled, but there was no joy. No Kolhapuri Taat anywhere, and even a la carte, nowhere was Mutton or Chicken Kolhapuri the signature dish – it appeared they had put it on the menu just for the sake of it, maybe to gratify the dulled taste buds on the alcohol soaked tongues of inebriated patrons who probably were in no state to appreciate the finer aspects of relishing good food. When queried, the waiters invariably said that Kolhapuri was synonymous with fiery chilli-hot food.

I was disappointed to find not even a single authentic Kolhapuri restaurant listed in various Good Food Guides to Mumbai. If you, dear fellow Foodie, know of an authentic Kolhapuri restaurant in your town or city, will you be so good as to let us all know?

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.

If you want to learn of such yummy places in Mumbai and Pune and read about some really mouthwatering foodie adventures and lip-smacking recipes why don’t you get a copy of my Foodie Adventures Book  APPETITE FOR A STROLL?

Just click the links below to know morecre:

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

Remember – There is no love greater than the love of food.

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

Blue Nile – The Best Biryani in Pune

December 30, 2008

BLUE NILE BIRYANI

 

By

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

 

 

My darling “foodie” sister suddenly lands up in the evening from Mumbai and commands, “Let’s go to Blue Nile!”

 

“You sure?” I ask, a bit incredulous.

 

“Yes,” she says peremptorily, “I’m in a mood for a nostalgic Biryani!”

 

And soon we are sitting in Blue Nile – a quaint, old-world, down-to-earth, high turnover, no-frills, old-world “heritage” eatery of Pune located near the GPO opposite the Nucleus Mall. This is no fancy restaurant for stylish gourmet dining in air-conditioned comfort, soothing tranquility and refined classy ambiance. Blue Nile is certainly not the ideal place for a discreet tête-à-tête meal or a romantic candle-light dinner. The moment you enter your nostrils may experience wafts of “aromatic pleasures” of the overpowering “mughlai fragrance” emanating from the open kitchen in front of you – so be prepared for a quick, hot, sweaty, hustle and bustle meal amidst din and hullabaloo.

 

There is no bar – that’s good – for they focus on the food, and the tipsy types come in only late at night. And you’ll always find an assorted crowd, students, office-goers, travelers, a sprinkling of families, foodies, young and old – and you will notice almost all of them gorging into a plate of Blue Nile Biryani. There are two halls and they have put the molded chairs and tables in the corridor too, maybe for the late night crowd, where we found onions being peeled. It’s quite a large place with a canteen-like atmosphere – a place for quick businesslike eating – not a place to hang out.

 

We order – a Mutton Biryani for me and, surprisingly, my sister orders a Chicken Biryani. I look at her in disbelief – “I’m off red meat,” she says.

 

Sad. Real sad! A pity. Chicken is ubiquitously boring – it’s put on the menu for those masquerading as non-vegetarians and those who don’t know what to eat.

 

And tell me, Dear Reader, tell me, doesn’t the word “Biryani” imply Goat Mutton? Can there be such a thing as Chicken Biryani, Fish Biryani or, just imagine, Veg Biryani?

 

Think about it. Just think about it. And while you think I’ll eat!

 

The food arrives in a jiffy – dumped matter-of-factly on the table with a few onion rings.

 

I feast my eyes hungrily at the tempting dish of Mutton Biryani in front of me, my mouth waters, I dig in, pick out a piece of mutton, pop it on my tongue, close my mouth and my eyes, focus my senses inwards, press the soft, tender, succulent well-cooked meat between my tongue and palate, gently roll it all over, imbibing the heavenly flavours as the mutton releases its delicious juices, then a delicate squeeze, a gentle bite, allowing the scrumptious meat to dissolve, savour the delicious taste and appetizing aroma, as the medley of flavours permeate deep within me.

 

On first impressions, how do you judge a Biryani? There are four tests.

 

First I try the “spread test”. I pick a little Biryani in my fingers and sprinkle it on the side dish. The grains of rice must not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of meat too must be succulent, clear and dry, not greasy.

 

The Blue Nile Biryani passes the “spread test” – not ten out of ten, maybe eight out of ten.

 

Then I lift the plate and smell the pieces of meat. The Biryani must be pleasantly aromatic [the sweetish fragrance and appetizing aroma of marinated spices] – not sharp or piquant. Again, it’s eight on ten. The Biryani has passed the “aroma test” with flying colours!

 

I taste the mutton – it’s excellent, succulent, superb – a perfect ten on ten! I roll some rice on my tongue – a wee bit too spicy, the slight hint of greasy aftertaste – maybe eight on ten. Overall nine on ten in the “taste test”!

 

A Perfect Biryani? Let me see! The fourth and final test! The “Potato Test”.

 

I search for the potato. The potatoes must taste as well as the meat – that is a hallmark of a good Biryani. I search for the potato. The potatoes must taste as well as the meat – that is a hallmark of a good Biryani. I dig deep, search – there is no potato. Just imagine – a Biryani without a potato! Can there be a perfect Biryani without a potato which tastes as delicious as the mutton?

 

My sister forces me to taste the Chicken Biryani. I wish I hadn’t – the chicken is quite tasteless with a sour tinge; certainly not well marinated, maybe they use a common stock of pre-boiled chicken for all the dishes.

 

Dear fellow Foodie – that’s my assessment of the famous Blue Nile Biryani – a fine deliciously tasty wholesome Mutton Biryani, maybe not “perfect” connoisseur cuisine, but certainly a trencherman’s delight.

 

And the Chicken “Biryani”? Well it’s quite run-of-the-mill. Nothing special at all.

 

You will find all the usual fare to fill up the menu card at Blue Nile. Like every restaurant Blue Nile has its own version of the ubiquitous “Chinese” Chopsueys and Hakka Noodles and a few “Standard” vegetarian dishes, besides tea, soft drinks, jelly, caramel custard, shakes and ice cream.

 

Dear Reader, please don’t experiment. Remember the “signature dish” of Blue Nile is Biryani, so when you go to Blue Nile make sure your relish their inimitable Mutton Biryani. At a hundred and twenty bucks, it’s reasonably priced, certainly value for money.

 

Blue Nile is simple, no nonsense, unpretentious, high turnover eatery focusing on food with a down-to-earth, commonplace, earthy atmosphere – a place for the gluttonous trencherman, certainly not for the refined epicure. If you are one of those high-falutin, snooty gourmets finicky about suave ambiance, classy dining, elegant décor et al, try the Blue Nile Take Away – their “parcel” service is so fast that you’ll have your food parcel in your hand almost the moment you place your order.

 

Dear Punekars – can someone please tell me where I can relish a “perfect biryani” in Pune. 

 

By the way, can someone please tell me the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao?  Of course, I know the answer – just trying to cross-check!

 

Happy Eating!

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008

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

 

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

 

Mumbai Good Food Guide – Foodie Day

October 28, 2007

Click the link and enjoy a Foodie Day in Mumbai:

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/foodie-day-in-mumbai.htm

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

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

     

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

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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