Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

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

   

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Pune Food Walk

July 15, 2007

FOODWALKING IN PUNEby
VIKRAM KARVE

What is ‘loafing’?

Idling away one’s time on useless things? Aimless Loitering. 

Loitering! Sounds a bit derogatory, isn’t it? Okay let’s say it’s aimless wandering. Perfectly useless time spent in a perfectly useless manner! Yes. That’s how I would like to define the art of loafing. Spending perfectly useless time in a perfectly useless manner!
And what is foodwalking?

Loitering, or rather walking, in search of good food.
That’s what I did a few days back. I loafed. In search of good food.I spent a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner – Foodwalking. In Pune. Let me tell you about it.

It’s a beautiful morning. I try to furtively slip out of my house unnoticed, but I am stopped in my tracks by my wife’s piercing voice, “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know?” I answer truthfully, and this adroit answer probably precludes the next question she is about to ask, “What time are you coming back?” for she knows I will again truthfully answer, “I don’t know.”

“Take the mobile with you,” she shouts, but I pretend not to hear and make myself scarce and disappear as fast as possible for I do not want the manacles of technology to ruin my day. If you want to truly enjoy life – beware of the technology trap!

It’s a bright day. I feel good. Flush with a sense of carefree irresponsibility, I walk with a spring in my step. I am going to enjoy my leisure.

Should I turn left? Should I turn right? I was free. Free to go wherever I desired. Free. To enjoy my day as I wanted. True freedom. To travel with no destination to reach. No task to complete. No deadlines to meet. Just Loaf. Aimlessly. Timelessly. Spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner.

I see a bus, stop it and hop in.

“Where do you want to go?” the conductor asks.

“Where does this bus go?” I ask.

“Pune Railway Station.”

“Okay. One Pune Railway Station,” I say holding out a tenner.

The conductor gives me an amused look and hands me a ticket and a rupee coin. I sit down, think interesting thoughts and enjoy the view through the window. On these trips of mine I prefer traveling by bus and, of course, I love to walk on foot. Driving my car on the terrible potholed, crowded and chaotic roads of Pune makes me go crazy, and, at my age, I dare not venture out too far on my scooter, lest I land up with broken bones in hospital or, worse, lifeless in Vaikunth or Kailas crematoriums!

That’s what I sometimes do on these glorious trips of mine. Just jump into the first bus that comes along and let it take you wherever it goes. Go where life leads you. Last time I landed up in the heart of Pune – near Shaniwar Wada. In Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi it’s even more exciting, as there are so many more routes and choices, and you can serendipitously explore so many novel and exotic places you wouldn’t dream of going to otherwise.

The PCMT bus reaches the Railway Station. It’s a smooth ride. (PCMT buses seem to be better than PMT buses!).

I get down and admire the magnificent heritage stone building of Pune Railway Station. I stand in the porch and look inside. Trains, crowds – I love the atmosphere. On impulse, I enter, and stroll on the platform, panning my gaze all over, and stopping once in a while to feast my eyes on any attractive object that arrests my attention.

“Want a seat?” a porter asks.

“No,” I say.

“Where are you going?” he pursues.

“Nowhere,” I say.

“Waiting for someone,” he asks, probably in anticipation of porterage.

“No,” I say.

He stares at me for a moment and walks off with a look of perplexed dejection. I look around. Everyone is waiting to go somewhere, or for someone. I am waiting to go nowhere, and for nobody. So I walk out of the station and head for Shiv Kailash Milk Bar bang opposite.

If you arrive at Pune by train on a hot morning, never make the blunder of heading for the rickshaw stand. You’ll get all stressed up waiting in the never-ending queue and haggling with the rickshawallas trying to con you. Just cross the road to Shiv Kailash, sit under the shade on one of the stainless steel stools placed on the pavement, invigorate yourself with a tall glass of cool refreshing lassi (which is guaranteed to banish the depleting effects of the tiresome train journey) and tell the waiter to hail a rickshaw from the many hanging around. This is what I have been doing for so many years, during my numerous homecomings, since the days Pune was called Poona.

Shiv Kailash serves the best lassi in Pune. It’s almost as good as the one at Pehelwan in Varanasi. The lassi freshly made in front of you topped off with a generous dollop of soft fresh cream. It’s thick, lip-smacking, nourishing, and gives me a heavenly feeling. I sip slowly, relishing every mouthful, almost eating the delectable fluid after letting it perambulate on my tongue, as I watch the world go about it’s business outside. People come, gulp their lassis in a hurry, and rush away, while I blissfully savor each and every drop of the delicious lassi.

I walk leisurely towards Camp. Past Mira College, GPO, Zero Milestone, Police Headquarters, Nehru Memorial Hall, where I cross the Moledina Road admiring the imposing Lal Deval Synagogue, and turn left, past the place imperial Dorabjee Store Building used to be once. Now there is a huge shopping complex and a glitzy mall opposite. I reminisce. West End, New Empire, all the adorable landmarks gone – “Landmark” – what’s that? A swanky new music-cum-book store. I walk in. The place is swarming with chic salesgirls and salesboys. No one pays any attention to me. Maybe I blend well with the surroundings. I realize the tremendous advantages of obscurity and the benefits of anonymity. Had I been a “successful” person, rich and famous, or someone with a striking personality, people would notice me and I doubt I would have been able to enjoy myself with such carefree abandon. Only non-achievers like me can truly enjoy a life of carefree irresponsibility.

I roam around the ground floor music section. There are no music stations where you can listen to music – like they have in Rhythm House and Planet-M in Mumbai. So I go the first floor bookstore. It’s spacious, neatly laid out and looks impressive. The books are arranged subject-wise, clearly visible from anywhere. There are cushioned stools to sit and browse and also two long sofas below the huge tinted windows towards the far side. I start from the left. Food, Philosophy, Self-Help, Travel, Coffee Table, Erotica, Classics, Fiction, Computers, Children, Indian Writing – there are books on every topic you can think of. The tranquil ambiance is so soothing and conducive that I browse to my heart’s content, loosing myself into that wonderful state of timelessness I experience sometimes when I’m totally immersed into doing something I love.

By the time I leave Landmark, cerebrally satiated, it’s almost three in the afternoon, I’m hungry, and in desperate need of gastronomic satiation. So I walk past Manney’s, West End, turn right on Main Street, cross Aurora Towers, turn right, walk past ABN Amro Bank, and turn left on Dastur Meher Road, a walk leisurely towards Sarbatwala Chowk till I reach Dorabjee and Sons. I dive in through the low entrance and look around. The eatery is crowded, with noisy families bashing away regardless greedily devouring the heaps food before them. The mouth-watering aroma, and the sight of the appetizing food, creates in me such ravenous pangs of hunger that I quickly sit on the only vacant table and order a Mutton Biryani – the signature dish of Dorabjee.

As is the hallmark of specialty cuisine restaurants – the menu is select – just a few choice dishes a single page. There’s Sali, Curry, Masala and Biryani in Mutton and Chicken; Kheema, Brain, Eggs, and combinations thereof, cutlets in gravy, and a few Veg dishes, for appearance sake. On Sundays, you can have Dhansak, maybe on your way to the races in the season.

I spoon some Biryani onto my tongue, seal my lips, close my eyes, turn my senses inwards with full consciousness to imbibe and savor the unique medley of juices released by the succulent piece of mutton, the bitterish-sweet taste of the slightly burnt crisp fried onions, and the spicy flavorsome rice. It is superlative delicious authentic cuisine at its best. Dorabjee serves the best mutton biryani in Pune – no doubt about it.

The fervent atmosphere of the place and exquisite quality of the food is such that one eats enthusiastically, with wholehearted zest and gusto; not apologetically and self-consciously, as one tends to do, trying to be prim and proper, in highfalutin restaurants. At Dorabjee, you can enjoy every morsel of your food with passionate ardor. And as I reach blissful satiety I realize that a well-filled stomach radiates a kind of spiritual happiness.

The ideal way to end this rich spicy repast is to cool it off with a Falooda. So I walk down Sachapir Street, cross Main Street, and head for Badshah on East Street to down a deliciously sweet and chilled Rose flavored Royal Falooda. And then to Kayani, down East Street, to pick up some Shrewsbury Biscuits and Chocolate Walnut Cake.

I stand outside Kayani, wondering what to do. Maybe I can go to Manney’s and browse some more. If Landmark has got the ambiance, Manney’s got the books! And then just walk down Main Street admiring pretty looking things, till I’m tired and hungry. Maybe I’ll have some sandwiches, a roll and cold coffee at Marzorin. Or pastries and a softy at Pasteurs. Or a Burger at Burger King, or a Chopsuey at East End, down East Street. Maybe Kathi Rolls at Olympia, Chicken Masala at George, Chana Bhatura at Monafood, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Wafers at Budhani, or Sizzlers at The Place next to Manney’s, or one more Biryani at Blue Nile near the GPO. The possibilities are endless!

Or should I see the movie at Victory opposite, or at West End nearby. Maybe I’ll jump into the first bus I see and go wherever it goes. How about going for a long walk on Laxmi road into the heart of town? Or an idyll beside the river in Bund Garden, or Saras Baug, or Sambhaji Park? Or maybe I’ll just head home. The possibilities are endless! I am free to do whatever I choose to do! Loaf to my heart’s content! To continue to spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner!

You can take my word for it, dear reader. There is nothing you’ll enjoy more than loafing. It is when you cease to do the things you have to do, and do the things you like to do, and you want to do, that you achieve the highest value of your time. The freedom to enjoy life is the ultimate reward. Why should you defer happiness waiting for some elusive abstract rewards? What reward could be greater than a life enjoyed as it is lived?

If you do not find happiness as you are, where you are, here and now, you will never find it. There is always plenty in life right now to enjoy for one who is determined to enjoy it. The feast of life is before you. Do you have the appetite to enjoy the feast of life? So my dear friend, discover the art of loafing, and you’ll redeem the art of living from the business of living.

The Art of Traveling, The Art of Happiness, The Art of Eating, The Art of Living and The Art of Loafing – inextricably intertwined, aren’t they, all in a foodwalk?

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

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

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Eating Out in Mumbai – Seafood

July 15, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA
By
VIKRAM KARVE

You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants. Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names. But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there? No! You haven’t? Doesn’t matter. Come with me on a Foodie trail. I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.

To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination. Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.

At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai. You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!

Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.

It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.

Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!

The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.

You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food. The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite! Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you’ll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.

Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.

But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close you eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.

At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal. And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing. It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.

Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. And do let us know how you enjoyed it!

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com
http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

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A Delicious Day in Mumbai

July 12, 2007

A TRENCHERMAN TRAVELS IN THE HEART OF MUMBAI [Unmatched Value for Money (VFM) Vegetarian Food in the heart of Mumbai] By VIKRAM KARVE    Dear Fellow Foodie, would you like to come with me on a gastronomic tour and spend a delicious day in the heart of Mumbai? This time, let’s have pure vegetarian authentic value-for-money Indian cuisine. Next time we’ll venture out on a hard-core non-vegetarian eating adventure.   BREAKFAST  Mumbai is in Maharashtra. You will get all genres and varieties of cuisine in Mumbai, but tell me, where would you go for an authentic Maharashtrian breakfast? My favorite place is Vinay near Thakurdwar in Girgaum. When I used to stay at Churchgate, early in the morning, I used to walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Savitribai Phule Ladies Hostel, (the lane is called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge at the southern end of Charni Road Station on the Western Railway, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, and continue walking till I reached Vinay on my right.  Have you ever tasted a dish called Misal? If you want to know what an authentic Misal tastes like, try the Misal at Vinay’s. It’s the signature dish of the place and I don’t think anyone else serves a better Misal than Vinay of Girgaum. The place is always crowded and you may have to wait for a seat, but the sight of foodies voraciously eating and the gastronomic ambiance will help build up your appetite. The moment you sit down in the shiny bright eatery, with mirrors all around, order a Misal. Don’t delve too much on the contents, or the ingredients, which basically comprise an Usal, rassa (the spicy curry) and the garnish of sev, chiwda, farsan, onions, fresh corriander and green chillies, arranged in three tiers and served with a wedge of lemon. There are two bowls and spoons. Using both spoons, mix the contents thoroughly, squeeze the lemon, and eat. It’s hot, delicious; your tongue is on fire, my nose and eyes water – the true test of a genuine missal. Bash on regardless. (Never try to douse the appetizing zesty fire in your insides by sipping water or ruin the gastronomic experience by succumbing to a bite of pav or bread they may have the temerity to place alongside). Pav with Bhaji or Vada may be fine, but if you want to savor the genuine taste of misal, and experience the ‘proof’ of the real stuff, it would be tantamount to sacrilege to have pav with misal. If you like things less spicy try Dahi Misal. The sweet cool curds (dahi), fiery chillis, zesty onions and spicy crisp chiwda-shev provide an excellent contrasting symbiosis of tastes and flavors. If you do want to have something with pav, try the Patal Bhaji or Usal. Fresh soft bread drenched in the delicious gravies – it’s heavenly. You’ll find all the Maharashtrian specialties on the menu, including the Upas (Fast) food like sabudanyachi khichadi and wade, but you must go there and discover for yourself. There are quite a few exquisite preparations of pohe too. But remember to end with chilled piyush or mango lassi to savor a sweet end to a delightful repast. If you are looking for Authentic Value For Money pure Vegetarian Maharashtrian Cuisine in Mumbai, head for Vinay – and you will carry mouthwatering memories of the place forever. And if you know of a place that serves a better Misal, please be so good as to inform me.    LUNCH   If you are ravenously hungry on a busy afternoon in the heart Mumbai, head for Bhagat Tarachand (BT). To get there, walk up Kalbadevi Road from Metro, turn right at the Cotton Exchange, and to your left you will see a series of eateries named Bhagat Tarachand. All are equally good and serve similar food, so you can sample them one by one on your numerous visits and decide which one you like. You can also walk up from Crawford Market, through Zaveri Bazar, past the Gold Exchange and Mumbadevi Temple; or from Bhendi Bazar via Pydhonie down Kalbadevi Road. In case you live in the suburbs, get down at Charni Road station, walk down Thakurdwar Road and turn right at Bhuleshwar and walk past the Cotton Exchange. Don’t try to drive down – you’ll go crazy negotiating your way – and besides a brisk walk on a hot and humid Mumbai afternoon will build up a voracious appetite and rapacious thirst – sine qua non for total enjoyment of a delicious nourishing meal.  The first thing to do is to order a “beer bottle” of chilled chaas (buttermilk) to quench your thirst and soothe your parched throat. On your first visit sample the delectable thali comprising varied vegetable dishes, dal and melt-in-the-mouth chappaties. Once you are hooked on, on subsequent visits you can experiment with the variety of rotis and vegetarian delights in Bhagat Tarachand’s culinary repertoire. Each and every dish – the dal fry, paneer bhurji, methi malai mutter, bhindi, even baingan – is superb. Both tastewise and pricewise, Bhagat Tarachand is unmatched – it’s the best value for money vegetarian food in Mumbai. Once you have relished your hearty meal, leisurely stroll down (digestive walk) past the Cotton Exchange and Panjrapole towards Bhuleshwar, turn right on VP Road towards CP Tank and soon you will reach Bhaishankar Gaurishankar which serves the most delicious lip-smacking rasgullas in Mumbai. As the luscious heavenly syrupy delights melts in your mouth you will experience such a fantastic blissful ecstasy that words cannot describe. A perfect ending to a perfect meal!     DINNER   I’ve just had some Khichdi – no, not the yummy lip smacking sabudanya chi khichadi my wife gorges and devours by the plateful whenever she is “fasting” – but the Khichdi one is given to eat when one is convalescing. It’s supposed to be light on the stomach, gives you strength and helps you recuperate. My daughter is ill; hence the Khichdi. The Khichdi I just ate was awful – it was fatless; there was no pure ghee in it, as desired by my darling daughter. In fact, it was so tasteless and insipid that it brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of wholesome Khichdi I had savored at Khichdi Samrat on near CP Tank in Mumbai. To get there, walk up Kalbadevi Road from Metro, turn left at the Cotton Exchange, walk past Panjrapole towards Bhuleshwar, turn right on VP Road towards CP Tank, and soon on your right you will see Khichdi Samrat – an unpretentious down-to-earth eatery. In fact it’s so humble and modest that make sure you don’t miss it and walk on to CP Tank! It is a small place, but I always found a seat; maybe they send out more parcels than have patrons eating in situ. You can also walk up from Crawford Market, through Zaveri Bazar, past the Gold Exchange and Mumbadevi Temple, to Cotton Exchange; or from Bhendi Bazar via Pydhonie down Kalbadevi Road and turn right at the Cotton Exchange. In case you live in the western suburbs, take a train and get down at Charni Road station, climb the overbridge at southern [Churchgate] end, turn left, walk staright down Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, continue past Vinay [you’ll be tempted to hop in for a Misal!], turn left at Bhuleshwar on VP Road towards CP tank. When I used to stay at Churchgate, I used to walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Savitribai Phule Ladies Hostel, (the lane is called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge at the southern end of Charni Road Station on the Western Railway, walk briskly on to my destination. Don’t try to drive down – you’ll go crazy negotiating your way – and besides a brisk walk on a hot and humid Mumbai evening will build up in you a voracious appetite – quite conducive, in fact sine qua non, for total enjoyment of, and to do full justice to, the delicious nourishing fare you are going to partake of in Khichdi Samrat. Besides, your march through the crowded gritty bustling streets will prepare you for the gastronomic adventure. You’ll be surprised, but the first time I went to Khichdi Samrat, one Sunday evening, I didn’t have Khichdi [maybe because of my mental map associating Khichdi  as convalescence-food, or maybe because “Dal Bati” was listed on the menu board as a Sunday special and I was curious to sample this dish which I had never tasted till that day]. Tasty wheat flour balls in scrumptious dal with plenty of pure ghee – it was indeed delicious and satiating. There are ten varieties of Khichdi, ranging from the bland plain khichdi to the special dry fruit kichdi, and I have tried all of them, one on each visit, and I liked the Masala and Vrindavan Khichdis. Do embellish your khichdi with a papad of your choice. There is an impressive array of papads to choose from. To my delight, I found the other dishes on the menu like the Methi Malai Mutter, Koftas, Kurmas and Paneer gravies very delicious too, and so is the excellent satisfying thali with a medley of dishes. So, if you go there in a group, don’t restrict yourself to Khichdi. And don’t forget to try different rotis and parathas including those made of maka [corn], bajra and the delicious stuffed versions. Start off with a jal jeera, have chaas to accompany your meal, and end with a Gulab Jamun or Rabdi; or better still walk down to Bhaishankar Gaurishankar nearby to end your repast with some chilled soothingly-sweet rasagullas.  The next time you’re in the heart of Mumbai, do have a meal at Khichdi Samrat, and tell us all about it.   MIDNIGHT TREAT   It’s been a long long time since I’ve relished a bowl of “Green Chilli Ice Cream” but the zestful stimulating taste still lingers on my tongue. Never before had I enjoyed eating ice cream so much. It was indeed a unique and passionate eating experience. Let me tell you about it. I love ice cream. A friend of mine told me that there is a place opposite the Chowpatty Sea Face in Mumbai India that serves “green chilli” ice cream. I didn’t believe him. I have savored myriad flavours of ice cream but “green chilli ice cream” seemed a bit far fetched. On questioning, my friend confessed that he had only heard about it, not eaten it himself. The very concept of green chilli ice cream whetted my curiosity so much that at sunset I was standing in front of Bachelorr’s (that’s the spelling on the menu card) Ice Cream and Juice Stall, my appetite fully stimulated by a long brisk walk. It was there on the menu card – Green Chilli Ice Cream. I ordered it and walked with the bowl to a lonely bench nearby to enjoy the eating experience in glorious solitude. The ice cream looks a creamy pink (not chilli green as I had expected it to be). I close my eyes and smell the ice cream – a nice sweet milky fragrance, a bit fruity; certainly no trace of the piquant penetrating sting of chillies. With a tremor of trepidation I spoon a bit of the green chilli ice cream on my tongue. My taste buds are smothered by a sweet mellifluous sensation as the cold creamy ice cream starts melting on my tongue. I am disappointed, feel conned – it seems it was just hype. This is run of the mill stuff. Or is it? Wait a moment. As the ice cream melts away I suddenly feel a sharp piercing fiery taste that sizzles my tongue, stings through my nose and penetrates my brain. My tongue is on fire and, like instant firefighting, I instinctively spoon a blob of ice cream onto my tongue. The cool ice cream quenches my burning tongue with its almost ambrosial taste but the moment it melts away I am zipped like a rocket with the sharp punch of the green chillies. So that was the art of eating green chilli ice cream. Hot and cold. Scorch and quench. Sting and soothe. Contrasting sensations. Like Alternating Current. Sharp tangy kicks burning through the cool syrupy sweetness till your system is fully perked up. And a trace of the biting tangy flavour of the green chilli remains within me for a long long time as I walk away. Green Chilli Ice Cream doesn’t satiate – it excites, stimulates, gives you a “kick”, zests you up. It’s a truly passionate delight. I searched for it everywhere in Pune, but couldn’t get it. So I’ll have to wait for my next trip to Mumbai to enjoy my favourite zesty ice cream again! Bachelorr’s has many other exciting and different flavors too, but I love Green Chilli. Dear fellow Foodies, the next time you are in Mumbai, head for Chowpatty at midnight and end your delicious day relishing a bowl of green chilli ice cream. And let me know if you liked it.    VIKRAM KARVE  http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com  https://vwkarve.wordpress.com  http://karve.wordpress.com  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve  http://www.ryze.com/go/karve  vikramkarve@sify.com  vikramkarve@hotmail.com                 

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

GULAB JAMUN

July 6, 2007

THE ART OF EATING A GULAB JAMUN

by

VIKRAM KARVE

The art of eating comprises three cardinal steps :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

https://vwkarve.wordpress.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com
 

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

Good Food in Good Luck

June 15, 2007

TAWA GOSH GREEN MASALA

  

By

  

VIKRAM KARVE

      

If you are famished, have a hundred bucks in your pocket, and happen to be somewhere near Deccan Gymkhana in Pune, where would you go to satiate your ravenous pangs of hunger?

  

“Good Luck” – No two ways about it! – you’ll head for Café Good Luck.

  

That’s what I did this afternoon. And since I was feeling a bit adventurous I didn’t order my staple Chicken Biryani, but decided to try out the exotic sounding “Tawa Gosh Green Masala” [the “Gosh” is not the “Oh Gosh!” type of “Gosh” but refers to meat or mutton and maybe better spelt “Ghosht” or “Gosht” – but then the métier of Café Good Luck is food, not spelling!]

  

I like to see my food being made in front of me – it enhances the totality of my gastronomic experience. That’s why I like Dhabas, and street food joints like Bade Miya [Bade Mian], Pav Bhaji, Bhel and Indian Fast Food Stalls, and when invited for a meal I try to reach early and peek into the kitchen. Some high-falutin restaurants too, like the Frontier Food specialty restaurant on the ground floor of Maurya in Delhi we used to visit long back, have huge transparent glass partitions where eager patrons can visually relish and savor their food being cooked in the kitchens before it is served to them on the table.

  

In Café Good Luck the Tawa is tucked away in the family area inside and I watch in anticipation as the generous mutton pieces, precooked [marinated and boiled], are blended into the freshly sautéed “green” gravy right in front of me on the huge flat Tawa.

  

I go to my table. There is an empty plate and a quarter-plate of sliced onions and lemon wedges. I season the onions with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. I’m going to squeeze some lemon into the gravy too, and later into a glass of water which I will drink on the conclusion of meal to lighten the rich spicy aftertaste.

  

The sizzling Tawa Gosh Green Masala arrives with two piping hot chapattis. I dip an exploratory finger and lick – the gravy is yummy and my mouth waters in anticipation. I fill my plate, squeeze a bit of lemon, and bash on regardless. The mutton pieces are large, well-cooked and succulent – there’s even a marrow bone piece. The gravy is lip-smackingly delicious. From time to time I encounter whole pieces of “sabud” masala and spices like green cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, garlic, green chilies and strips of crunchy ginger, which add a kick and zest to the taste.

  

It’s an excellent, fulfilling, wholesome meal which leaves me fully satisfied and satiated. I’m glad I was a bit adventurous and deviated from my staple biryani, kheema, mutton cutlet curry fare, and I’m sure going to try out some new dishes, maybe the exotic sounding “Jungli Mutton or Chicken” , the next time I visit my good old favorite Café Good Luck.

    

VIKRAM KARVE

   

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Malpua and Kheer

June 15, 2007

MALPUA AND KHEER

[a sumptuous delicious breakfast]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

  

The rains have arrived in Pune. No, not the heavy monsoon showers one experiences in Mumbai, but the characteristic Puneri drizzle [pir-pir] with a shower once in a while. Whilst on my evening walk on ITI Road in Aundh last evening I was suddenly caught unawares by one of these sporadic showers so I ducked into the nearest shelter I could find – the basement of the Ozone Mall where I discovered a sweet shop called Kadhai. The brisk walk, the rainy season and the tempting array of sweets and savories on display made my mouth water and created an appetite in me, and I was wondering what to eat, when I discovered one of my favorite sweets “Malpua” displayed on the Menu Chart hung on the wall. This was indeed a pleasant surprise [since one doesn’t get to see much of Malpua in Pune] and brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of the delicious Malpua-Kheer we savored and devoured with gusto as a nourishing wholesome breakfast after bouts of heavy exercise on cold winter Sunday mornings long back in Banaras. Those were indeed the good old gastronomic days of high calorie energizing winter breakfasts like Malpua-Kheer and piping hot Jalebi or Lavang Lata with freshly boiled thick creamy Doodh [Milk] dipped and eaten the same way as one eats khari biscuits with Irani Chai.

  

I asked for Malpua and Kheer, but there was no Kheer, so I ordered a plate of Malpua and eagerly put a piece of the rich brown syrupy Malpua in my mouth. It was terrible – the Malpua tasted like boiled rubber drenched in sugar syrup. It did not melt in the mouth, or dissolve gracefully on the palate, but disintegrated into brittle fragments and left a stodgy aftertaste.

  

The soft fluffy succulent lusciousness, the sweet-sour tang of banana and curd fermentation, the spicy fragrance of cardamom, and most important, the distinctive taste and classic flavor of saunf [badishep] which is the hallmark of authentic Malpua, were conspicuous by their absence.

  

I was so disappointed that I called the “Maharaj” and asked him how he had managed to bungle and botch this exquisite delicacy and churn out this inexcusably appalling stuff masquerading as Malpua.

  

“Simple,” he said, “Boil enough Milk till it becomes Rabdi, mix in Maida and make a smooth batter, fry the pancakes in pure Ghee and soak in sugar syrup.”

  

“Just Milk and Maida? That’s not how you make Malpua,” I told him, “What about the Banana, Saunf, Cardamom, Spices, Coconut, Dry Fruit, Curds…?”

  

“This is the Rajasthani Style Malpua,” he said sheepishly and disappeared.

  

There are many versions of Malpua all over India – I have tasted the Rajasthani, Bengali, Karnataka, Maharashtrian, Gujarati, MP and UP versions. Then there are improvisations like potato malpua, pineapple malpua, orange malpua et al. There is also the inimitable and matchless heavy duty invigorating and energizing hearty Malpua, braced and fortified with eggs, prepared in the evenings and nights during the holy month of Ramzan by Suleman Mithaiwala at Mohammed Ali Road near Minara Masjid in Mumbai. It is a meal in itself, but if you want you really want to do justice start off with Kababs, relish the Malpua, and top up with Phirnee.

  

Tell me, in which genre of cuisine should Malpua be classified? I’ll tell you – genuine Malpua is Bihari Cuisine. That’s right, no doubt about it, Malpua is a speciality of Bihar, like Khaja, and the best authentic Malpua is made Bihari Style, and this is how a Bihari friend of mine, an expert cook, taught me to make Malpua, long back.

  

Make a smooth batter with Maida, pinch of soda and salt, banana pulp, milk, cardamom [choti elaichi] pods and powder, a small pinch of nutmeg powder, freshly grated coconut, powdered and whole saunf, beaten curds and water. Beat well with your hands till the batter becomes light and fluffy. Cover and leave aside for an hour or more for a bit of fermentation.

  

Prepare 1:1 sugar syrup seasoned with cardamom and cloves. Sprinkle a little rosewater, saffron or essence, if you want. Keep the syrup hot, at least warm, to facilitate easy ingress into the malpua and to keep it soft and succulent.

  

Now mix and whip well with your hands, adding water if required, to get a smooth batter of pouring consistency, and deep-fry the pua [pancake] in pure ghee till nice and brown, soft and cooked, not too crisp. When ready take out the fried pua , drain excess ghee, and dip the pua  in the hot sugar syrup completely for a minute to enable just enough permeation but obviate over-sogginess. With the sugar syrup absorbed, the pua has now become malpua and is ready to be eaten with deliciously sweet lip smacking Kheer. [Now don’t tell me you don’t know how to make delicious Kheer!]

  

Malpua must be eaten with Kheer. This is not a dessert, or snack, but a complete nourishing breakfast in its entirety. The luscious wholesome combination is heavenly and you will be overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling of blissful satiation.

  

Dear fellow Foodie – would you be so good as to tell me where I can find and savor genuine authentic Malpua and Kheer.

   

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

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A Mouthwatering Book

June 13, 2007

A MOUTHWATERING BOOK

 

 

By

  

VIKRAM KARVE

    

There is no greater love than the love of eating and there is no greater pleasure than the joy of reading. I love eating delicious food. I enjoy reading good books. I was so thrilled when I came across a delightful book on food in my library, that I grabbed it, rushed home, and spent the rest of the day in sheer bliss relishing this mouthwatering book. Would you be so good and permit me, my dear Readers, fellow Foodies, and Bibliophiles, to tell you a bit about this wonderful book.

   

TITLE: Curry: A Biography

 

AUTHOR: Lizzie Collingham

 

PUBLISHER: Chatto & Windus, London, 2005, 318 pages

 

PRICE: £16.99

 

ISBN 0701173351

   

The moment you start reading the book you realize that the author truly loves food, loves India, loves history, and loves writing. And that’s why this well researched culinary biography of curry is so fascinating and engrossing. At the beginning of her preface, Lizzie Collingham tells about the beginnings of her gastromonic adventures in India from the moment she drank her first thick, velvety-sweet and seductive lassi in Colaba Mumbai. What follows is a remarkable culinary exploration, delving much beyond the study of curry, encompassing fabulous panoply of Indian cuisine like Biryani, ChickenTikka Masala, Vindaloo, Korma, Madras Curry and Curry Powders, Cutlets and Chai, and British food in India.

  

The highlights of the book are the twenty select recipes at the end of each chapter ranging from Kebabs, Biryani and Korma to Bebinca, Vindaloo and Dhansak, and even laddus and lassis. I tried out the Lamb Korma and it was indeed succulent and delicious. The ‘meat’ of the book is chapter 6 on “Curry Powder” which includes unique and rare formulations, and even a poem recipe. This is indeed an ‘unputdownable’ book, replete with lively anecdotes and interesting gastronomic and historical facts. The artistic and apt illustrations, vivid maps, attractive design and appealing get-up enhance the enjoyment of the reading experience. I wish the author had included authentic restaurants and signature curry eateries from India in the chapter on Curry Travels to make it complete and comprehensive. The exhaustive bibliography bears testimony to the research efforts of the author.

  

Curry – a biography is a delicious book. Relish it, savor it, feast on it. 

        

VIKRAM KARVE

 

  

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