Archive for the ‘fish’ Category

Book Review – Pune Food Guide

June 27, 2007

Book Review – TIMES PUNE FOOD GUIDE 2007

[Reviewed by Foodie Vikram Karve]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETAILS OF THE BOOK REVIEWED

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

Reviewed by:

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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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Eating Out in Churchgate Mumbai

May 29, 2007

Kheema Pav, Bun Maska and Chai at Churchgate

by
VIKRAM KARVE

When I used to live in Empress Court, opposite the Oval, near Churchgate, I would rise at dawn, as the clock on Rajabai Tower struck Six, and go for a long brisk walk all the way to Chowpatty, and on my return, I would head for Stadium restaurant for a refreshing and stimulating cup of tea to energize me and perk me up for the day ahead. On Sundays and holidays, when we went for our super long walks down Marine Drive, up Walkeshwar, Teen Batti, down Malabar Hill, Napean sea Road, a round of Priyadarshini Park, Kemps Corner, Hughes Road, Babulnath, and back, there were three places where we used to breakfast to satiate our ravenous appetites – if my walking partner was a vegetarian we used to head to Vinay in Girgaum for a Misal Pav; and if non vegetarian, it was either Kyani at Dhobi Talao or Stadium at Churchgate for a Kheema Pav.

Stadium serves wholesome tasty Kheema dishes throughout the day, an ideal “snack’ if you are feeling famished. I like their “pudding” and patties too; their Chicken Biryani is worth a try, and so are the “Chinese” dishes, and, if you are in a hurry, why not have a quick spicy egg bhurji with fresh soft pav? Look at the blackboard on the wall for the day’s special – these dishes are real good, whether it’s fried fish, dal gosht, or, if it’s your lucky day, chicken or mutton dhansak.

Stadium Cafe, located next to Churchgate Railway Station, is a clean, well-lighted place to pass time, waiting for someone, or browsing a book, or just doing nothing, staring out onto the busy street, while enjoying a cup of invigorating tea with a bun maska. I like Stadium. It is a clean well-lighted place. It is easy on your wallet, and serves good wholesome food in relaxed ambiance.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://vikramkarve.livejournal.com

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve
 

SAMOVAR – Lazy Lunch in Mumbai

May 29, 2007

A Relaxed Lunch in Arty Ambiance


By


Vikram Karve

When I was a small boy I traveled all over the country by train, and I remember many trains like The Calcutta Mail via Nagpur, The Frontier Mail, The Grand Trunk Express, and even the Deccan Queen, had Restaurant or Dining Cars where one could sit comfortably and enjoy leisurely meals comprising the choicest “railway cuisine” whilst viewing the scenery passing by through the large open windows. Each train had its own special a la carte dishes apart from the thalis. One can’t enjoy this luxury anymore as the railways have replaced Dining Cars with Pantry Cars and they serve lackluster standard meals packed in foil, paper and plastic containers.

On a warm Mumbai afternoon I feel nostalgic and remember the good old railway dining car lunches, and I am in a mood for a relaxed lunch in arty ambiance, so I convince my friend and we head for Samovar at the Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda near the Museum. Samovar restaurant is situated next to the art gallery in a long rectangular veranda and resembles a Railway Restaurant Car of yesteryear. We relax on the cane chairs and enjoy the view of the adjoining Museum lawns.

There is a menu card, but the specialties of the day are scribbled on blackboards on both ends of the no-frills eatery. We order the specialties of the day – a Mutton Chilly Fry Lunch and Hyderabadi Kheema with Lachi Paratha. The tender boneless Mutton Chilly Fry well cooked in a thick dark brown sauce has a nice spicy peppery taste and blends well with the garlic bread and fresh salad. The fiery orange-red chilli-sour Hyderabadi Kheema is lip-smackingly zesty, the paratha super-soft and fluffy, and the combination is delicious.

Next we have the wholesome stuffed parathas [Gobi (Cauliflower) and Kheema] accompanied by their appetizing chutneys followed by Kheema and Kabab Rolls. To cool off, we end with the huge soothing Dahi Wadas. I’m tempted to order a biryani or a prawn pulao, but we’re nicely satiated and overeating will spoil everything – maybe we’ll try the rice dishes next time.

Samovar has a unique charm and friendly ambience you won’t find anywhere else. It serves excellent value-for-money food and is an ideal place for a cosy tete-a-tete with a friend over a leisurely lunch on a lazy afternoon.

VIKRAM KARVE



vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Khau Galli

April 20, 2007

Which is your favorite Khau Galli?ByVikram Karve 

 

 

Khau Galli? 

What does this mean? 

Well, in Marathi, Khau means treat, a food treat; and Galli means lane, or street. So Khau Galli means

Treat Street

, or

Food Lane

, call it what you like, for every town, neighborhood, locality, and person, has a favorite Khau Galli.  

When I used to stay near Churchgate in Mumbai, my favorite Khau Galli was the one near Cross Maidan, on the lane connecting SNDT’s Sunderbai Hall to

Fashion Street

. Here amidst the teeming crowd, I used to relish to my heart’s content, the choicest of street food – Pav Bhaji at Lenin Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav, Misal, Juices, juicy syrupy hot Jilebis, and even non-veg delicacies and gravies at the dhaba-like shack towards the Cross Maidan. The variety of street food here is awesome – you name it and it’s there! But if you are one of those high-falutin hygiene-maniacs please stay away. 

And during Ramzan, every evening, the entire lane near Minara Masjid off Mohammed Ali Road, transforms itself into a spectacular Khau Galli with mouthwatering aromas wafting through the air and exotic foods, ranging from lip smacking kababs, meats and chicken, nourishing malpuas, refreshing phirnis and cool soothing faloodas – it’s a magnificent gastronomic experience.  

In Pune, where I now live, there are a number of terrific Khau Gallis in the heart of the city, but the nearest one to me is the Khau Galli at Sangvi where you can savor Bhel, Dabeli, Pav Bhaji, Tandoori Chicken and Tikkas, Dosas, and , of course, the ubiquitous “Chinese” fare. 

In
Delhi, I can never forget the Khau Gallis around Chandni Chowk. Parathe Wali Galli, the unmatched incomparable finger licking syrup dripping lip smacking rich sweet succulent pure ghee jalebi at

Dariba Lane

– I’m going crazy just thinking about it, so I’ll stop here, before I go into gastronomic raptures and digress! 

Dear fellow Foodie – Which is your favorite Khau Galli?  

Please do tell us all about it. 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

http://360.yahoo.com/vikramkarve 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berry Pulao

February 23, 2007

Berry Pulao at Britannia

by

Vikram Karve

   

 

I’m feeling good. It’s four in the evening and I’ve just polished off a delicious Berry Pulao in Pune. Words cannot describe my state of supreme ambrosial contentment and blissful non-alcoholic intoxication as I sit down to write this for you.

Berry Pulao in Pune? Not possible! There’s only one place in India where you get Berry Pulao and that’s Britannia Restaurant in Ballard Estate Mumbai. I read somewhere – Busybee, I think, who wrote – “If it’s Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia”.

That’s right. The Berry Pulao I relished just a few moments ago, was indeed from the one and only Britannia – my friend Sanjiv just drove down from Mumbai with a Mutton Berry Pulao nicely packed in Britannia’s containers with the restaurant’s motto written on top: “There is no greater love than the love of eating”.

Dear fellow Foodie – if you’ve eaten and relished Berry Pulao at Britannia, my words will not be adequate to describe the unique gastronomic experience you’ve had. If you haven’t, read on.

The Mutton Berry Pulao looks good. A base of aromatic yellowish-orange basmati rice, topped with kababs, crisp reddish-brown strips of fried onions, fried cashew nuts, and, of course, the dark red berries. I start of with a tiny sweet and sour berry to stimulate my tongue and then pick out a kabab from the top layer of the pulao, pop it on my tongue, close mouth and my eyes, press the soft meat between my tongue and palate, roll it, let it disintegrate and savor the heavenly flavor; my appetite whetted, I feel so ravenous, that I just can’t wait to devour the delicacy in front of me. But I am not going to “devour” the pulao greedily, but do full justice to my favorite pulao by eating it mindfully. “Mindful eating”: that’s the art of eating, with all your senses fully focused inwards to derive total epicurean pleasure.

The mutton, the kababs as well as the generous chunks of well marinated and superbly cooked pieces of prime meat, is boneless. The mouthwatering succulent pieces of mutton, substantial in size, are soft and tender, and taste delicious and satisfying. The soft spicy kababs are nice and zesty. The basmati rice is fragrant and tasty. The cashew nuts crisp. And, of course, the sweetish taste of the fried onions combining with the sweet and sour tang of the berries. The berry pulao is indeed a heavenly medley of the choice ingredients, blending the symbiosis of tastes, fusion of flavors and bouquet of fragrances. In its entirety, relishing a Berry Pulao is a matchless epicurean experience. Britannia’s Berry Pulao is par excellence – a supreme feast you will never forget.

Many a greasy and spicy “Biryanis” and “Pulaos” leave you feeling heavy, acidic in the stomach, hot and bitterish in your throat, and with a tartish feeling on your tongue.

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating; the proof of a pulao or biryani is in its aftertaste. It’s that lovely wispy aftertaste that makes Berry Pulao my favorite. Maybe that’s the secret of the “berries”.

Dear fellow Foodie. What are you waiting for? If you are in Mumbai, head for Britannia and have a hearty lunch. (It closes in the evenings, I think). When I was in Mumbai, I’ve had many a “working lunches” there as I worked nearby. [The only thing I “worked” on during those lunches was my food!]. I’ve never heard of a crazier oxymoron than “Working Lunch”!

Now I have to depend on friends likes Sanjiv to drop a berry pulao at my house in Pune on their way back during their frequent drives to Mumbai. And if you are not in Mumbai, make sure you visit Britannia for lunch the next time you’re there. Till then keep reading this and enjoy this delectable dish vicariously in your mind’s eye.

By the way, can someone tell us the difference between a Biryani and a Pulao?

Of course, I know the answer – just trying to cross-check!

Till next time,

Happy Eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

       

Lunch at Shalimar Bhendi Bazar Mumbai

February 21, 2007

A HEARTY LUNCH AT SHALIMAR IN BHENDI BAZAR
by
VIKRAM KARVE

Right now I’m experiencing a severe case of “Writer’s Block” so I’m going to write about Food. 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 pure Veg Maharashtrian Thali at Shreyas in Pune?

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, 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. So I’m heading for lunch. Where? I’ll tell you later. Right here, in this blog.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.livelournal.com

Rustic Indian Chicken Curry Dhaba Style

February 15, 2007

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

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Till next time,

Happy Eating

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://vikramkarve.gather.com

 

 

 

 

Kerala Cuisine in Mumbai

February 15, 2007

FOUNTAIN
PLAZA
(KERALA CUISINE IN THE HEART OF MUMBAI)

By

Vikram Karve 

  

  

If you happen to be in Fort area of Mumbai, are famished and hungry for a sumptuous lunch, and in a mood for Kerala cuisine, try  Fountain Plaza. There a number of eateries who derive their names from the erstwhile Flora Fountain (now Hutatma Chowk) and I’m not referring to the more famous Fountain Restaurant opposite HSBC Bank which is a Sizzler and Steak place, or Fountain Inn, the Mangalorean seafood eatery in Nanabhai Lane. I am referring to Hotel Fountain Plaza, on RD Street off DN Road, near Handloom House next to Eastern Watch Company, my favorite Kerala Cuisine restaurant in South Mumbai. There is plenty to choose from – Fish, Chicken and Mutton, not much a choice for vegetarians, except in the snacks department, which you can try at “Tiffin Time” in the evenings. 

To start off, I like the Fish Curry in white coconut gravy with Malabari Paratha (Parota) with a fried Pomfret on the side. I pop a piece of the succulent fish on my tongue, followed by a generously soaked portion of the soft paratha in the delicious rich gravy, close my eyes, and press the juicy food between my tongue and palate. Never bite, just press the tongue upwards against your palate and savor the heavenly taste as the fish disintegrates releasing the delicious juices and spicy flavor. 

Next I order a Chicken Korma (the Chicken Stew is good too) with Appams and then have my favorite Malabari style Mutton Biryani. The place evokes nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam. 

There are a large number of dishes on the menu including Chinese and “Mughlai”, but at Fountain Plaza it’s better to focus on Kerala Cuisine. If you are heading home in the evening, stop by for tiffin, and enjoy an evening ‘banana based’ snack like banana roast, banana fry, banana bonda etc which are the specialty of the place with a cup of tea or coffee. 

I like Fountain Plaza. A no-nonsense Spartan eatery. Mouthwatering food. Nourishing snacks. Lip smacking gravies. Satiating meals. Value For Money eating. Next time you are in Fort, Mumbai, give the place a try, and let me know if you liked it. 

  

  

VIKRAM KARVE  

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

  

Prawn Koliwada

February 13, 2007

Mouthwatering Memories – Koliwada Cuisine – by Vikram Karve
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