Archive for the ‘rice’ Category

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

August 10, 2009

A CLEAN WELL-LIGHTED PLACE

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

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

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


http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

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

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

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

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

April 11, 2009

A Hearty Meal from the Heart of India

 

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

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

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

Purepur Kolhapur

Mouthwatering Memories of a Hearty Kolhapuri Meal

by

Vikram Karve

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

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

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

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

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

The Purepur Special Thali comprises the following:

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

I sip the pandhara rassa – it’s invigorating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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

Just click the links below to know morecre:

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

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

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

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

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

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

November 30, 2008

APPETITE FOR A STROLL 

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


By


VIKRAM KARVE

 

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

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

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

expressonline book review

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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


Happy Reading and Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

Bhagat Tarachand Pune – Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine

January 14, 2008

A HEARTY MEAL IN THE HEART OF PUNE

 

By

 

VIKRAM KARVE

    

My wife is a pure vegetarian. So when we eat out together we prefer a pure vegetarian restaurant. And when you are really famished there’s nothing better to satiate your hunger than a sumptuous wholesome vegetarian thali. When we were in Mumbai our favourite Value for Money Vegetarian Thali guaranteed to satisfy the most voracious appetite and discerning taste buds was the Thali served by Bhagat Tarachand near Zaveri Bazar. Both taste-wise and price-wise, Bhagat Tarachand is unmatched – it’s the best value for money vegetarian food in Mumbai. So this afternoon, finding ourselves famished and thirsty on Laxmi Road in Pune we decided to have a hearty meal at Bhagat Tarachand’s Pune restaurant in the heart of the city.

  

The first thing you notice in the contrast in ambiance – unlike the hustle-bustle, hurly burly, hurried eating in a hot, humid, crowded atmosphere you are overwhelmed with in Mumbai, here, in Pune, the mood is set for serene, tranquil, relaxed, leisurely dining. Also, there is no “beer bottle” of chilled chaas (buttermilk) to quench your thirst and soothe your parched throat, and there is a stylish menu card, not the Mumbai-style wall-menu. I read the menu – quite expensive – now in this aspect Pune’s Bhagat Tarachand is different – certainly not frugal Value for Money dining! But then Pune is an expensive place, especially for food.

  

There isn’t must choice as far as Thalis are concerned – there is only one type of Thali on the menu and it’s called the Deluxe Lunch Thali [there is no ordinary thali for an “ordinary” foodie like me!]. The Thali costs a steep 120 rupees and we order it.

   

The food is plentiful and very tasty. There is melt in the mouth delicious Paneer Bhurji, flavoursome aloo methi sukha, a tangy samosa, nutritious dal fry, three special ghee-rich rotis, rice, papad, and rabdi. We leisurely savour the substantial meal in relaxed ambience. The food is as good as the one served in their Mumbai restaurants – what disappoints is the Chaas – they serve only a tiny glass of chaas and when I asked for a refill the waiter rudely told me it would cost me an extra eighteen bucks – now that’s not fair as it is the accompaniment of the lip-smacking chaas that truly enhances the enjoyment and eating experience of this type of cuisine. Also the chaas here lacked the soothing zing of the “beer bottle” chilled chaas they serve in Mumbai. And as for the service – I suggest they send their staff down to the Mumbai restaurants to imbibe some of the down-to-earth businesslike warmth.

   

If Bhagat Tarachand wants to carve a niche for itself in Pune [like Shreyas or Mayur for vegetarian thalis] it better focus on its specialities and uniqueness of cuisine – what’s the point of having things like Bread-Butter-Jam, Sandwiches, Pav-Bhaji and Chole Bhatura on the menu when there are so many good established places for these in Pune? Remember, it’s those matchless varieties of rotis, unique taste of vegetable and paneer dishes, the inimitable lip-smacking soothing chaas and most importantly the tasty wholesome Thalis which are going to attract foodies and save this restaurant from becoming one of those run of the mill eateries one sees proliferating all over Pune. And please make the food more affordable, especially the thalis and have some variety too – a common man’s thali should not be more than fifty rupees.

  

If you happen to be in the heart of Pune City, do have a hearty meal at Bhagat Tarachand, and tell us if you liked it. We’re sure going to visit the place again – and this time we are going to focus on the variety of rotis, the rich paneer and mouth-watering vegetable gravies.

   

And if you want to read about my delightful experience at Mumbai’s Bhagat Tarachand just click on the links below:

  

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/12/food-travels-in-mumbai-a-veg-foodie-day.htm

 

  

http://foodiekarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-best-value-for-money-vegetarian-food-in-mumbai.htm

 

  

Happy Eating!

  

VIKRAM KARVE

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

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

  

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

   

Bhagat Tarachand Pune

December 19, 2007

A HEARTY MEAL IN THE HEART OF PUNE

  

By

  

VIKRAM KARVE

     My wife is a pure vegetarian. So when we eat out together we prefer a pure vegetarian restaurant. And when you are really famished there’s nothing better to satiate your hunger than a sumptuous wholesome vegetarian thali. When we were in Mumbai our favourite Value for Money Vegetarian Thali guaranteed to satisfy the most voracious appetite and discerning taste buds was the Thali served by Bhagat Tarachand near Zaveri Bazar. Both taste-wise and price-wise, Bhagat Tarachand is unmatched – it’s the best value for money vegetarian food in Mumbai. So this afternoon, finding ourselves famished and thirsty on Laxmi Road in Pune we decided to have a hearty meal at Bhagat Tarachand’s Pune restaurant in the heart of the city.    The first thing you notice is the contrast in ambiance – unlike the hustle-bustle, hurly burly, hurried eating in a hot, humid, crowded atmosphere you are overwhelmed with in Mumbai, here, in Pune, the mood is set for serene, tranquil, relaxed, leisurely dining. Also, there is no “beer bottle” of chilled chaas (buttermilk) to quench your thirst and soothe your parched throat, and there is a stylish menu card, not the Mumbai-style wall-menu. I read the menu – quite expensive – now in this aspect Pune’s Bhagat Tarachand is different – certainly not frugal Value for Money dining! But then Pune is an expensive place, especially for food.    There isn’t must choice as far as Thalis are concerned – there is only one type of Thali on the menu and it’s called the Deluxe Lunch Thali [there is no ordinary thali for an “ordinary” foodie like me!]. The Thali costs a steep 120 rupees and we order it.     The food is plentiful and very tasty. There is melt in the mouth delicious Paneer Bhurji, flavoursome aloo methi sukha, a tangy samosa, nutritious dal fry, three special ghee-rich rotis, rice, papad, and rabdi. We leisurely savour the substantial meal in relaxed ambience. The food is as good as the one served in their Mumbai restaurants – what disappoints is the Chaas – they serve only a tiny glass of chaas and when I asked for a refill the waiter rudely told me it would cost me an extra eighteen bucks – now that’s not fair as it is the accompaniment of the lip-smacking chaas that truly enhances the enjoyment and eating experience of this type of cuisine. Also the chaas here lacked the soothing zing of the “beer bottle” chilled chaas they serve in Mumbai. And as for the service – I suggest they send their staff down to the Mumbai restaurants to imbibe some of the down-to-earth businesslike warmth.    If Bhagat Tarachand wants to carve a niche for itself in Pune [like Shreyas or Mayur for vegetarian thalis] it better focus on its specialities and uniqueness of cuisine – what’s the point of having things like Bread-Butter-Jam, Sandwiches, Pav-Bhaji and Chole Bhatura on the menu when there are so many good established places for these in Pune? Remember, it’s those matchless varieties of rotis, unique taste of vegetable and paneer dishes, the inimitable lip-smacking soothing chaas and most importantly the tasty wholesome Thalis which are going to attract foodies and save this restaurant from becoming one of those run of the mill eateries one sees proliferating all over Pune. And please make the food more affordable, especially the thalis and have some variety too – a common man’s thali should not be more than fifty rupees.    If you happen to be in the heart of Pune City, do have a hearty meal at Bhagat Tarachand, and tell us if you liked it. We’re sure going to visit the place again – and this time we are going to focus on the variety of rotis, the rich paneer and mouth-watering vegetable gravies.     

And if you want to read about my delightful experience at Mumbai’s Bhagat Tarachand just click on the links below:

   

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/12/food-travels-in-mumbai-a-veg-foodie-day.htm

 

  

http://foodiekarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/10/the-best-value-for-money-vegetarian-food-in-mumbai.htm

   

Happy Eating!

   

VIKRAM KARVE

  

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

  vikramkarve@sify.com   

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

Mumbai Good Food Guide – Foodie Day

October 28, 2007

Click the link and enjoy a Foodie Day in Mumbai:

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

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

A SATIATING DAY IN MUMBAI

July 17, 2007

A SATIATING NON-VEG DAY IN MUMBAI

  

By

  VIKRAM KARVE   

Good Morning, dear Reader – come spend a satiating Non-Veg Foodie day with me in Mumbai.   

BREAKFAST

    

I start early, at dawn, from my house near Churchgate, admire, in the early morning pre-sunrise light, the impressive silhouettes of the magnificent Gothic structures of the High Court and Mumbai University across the Oval, hear the clock on Rajabai Tower strike six, walk briskly past Oxford Bookstore, KC College, CCI, Marine Plaza Hotel; cross the Marine Drive, turn right and start off towards Chowpatty, greeting with a smile the morning joggers and walkers, rinsing my lungs with the fresh invigorating sea breeze, and soon I am past Marine Lines, Taraporewala Aquarium, Charni Road, Chowpatty, Wilson College and at the end of Marine Drive.

  

Here I ponder for a moment. Should I turn left up the Walkeshwar Road to Teen Batti and Banganga? Or should I turn right towards Babulnath; or should I turn back towards Nariman Point? I experience a sense of true freedom. I can make whatever choice I want; go wherever I desire!

  I choose to cross the road, and walk fast, straight up the steep path towards Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill, trying to exercise my heart and lungs. I take a round of garden atop the water tank near Kamala Nehru Park (is it called Phirozeshah Mehta Udyan?), canter down to Kemp’s Corner where I turn right, a U-turn really, past Crossword Bookstore, down Hughes Road, left past Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossing the railway over-bridge keep going onto Grant Road passing Novelty Cinema , turn right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road, reach VP Road, walk past Gol Deval, Alankar cinema and there I am at Bhendi Bazar – my destination Noor Mohammadi Hotel in front of me across Mohamedali Road.

 

Almost two hours of brisk walking has built up in me a voracious appetite and I am ready to devour a sumptuous breakfast. I am hungry; and I eat only when I am hungry!

  I enter the Spartan no-nonsense eatery and order a Nalli Nihari and Roti. Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy, with a generous chunk of succulent meat floating in it, and a fluffy khaboosh roti is placed in front of me. I dip a piece of the soft roti in the spicy rich gravy, let it soak for a while, put it in my mouth and close my eyes to luxuriate in and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.

 I can feel the juicy gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue, releasing its delicious flavours and spicy aroma which permeate into my soul. I am in seventh heaven and keep on attaining higher states of sheer heavenly bliss with every succulent bite of the mouth watering concoction – they say it’s a bone marrow and wheat gravy, but I don’t delve too much on the contents of a dish – it’s the taste, delicacy, eating experience and ultimate divine feeling of satiation that matters.

 

It’s a delectable beginning to a delightful day as the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari lingers on my tongue indefinitely. It’s epicurean satiation of the highest order – a blissful experience I can never forget.

  

Dear Reader; if you happen to be in Mumbai and are ready for a sumptuous non-vegetarian breakfast, begin your day with Nalli Nihari at Noor Mohammadi in Bhendi Bazar. And don’t forget to tell me how you enjoyed it! Wasn’t it a fortifying and stimulating experience?

  

But remember; if you want to truly appreciate this splendid Heritage Gourmet Trencherman’s Breakfast Dish to its fullest, you must build up an appetite for it! Happy eating!

     LUNCH

   

It’s almost lunch time, so I close my eyes and try to recollect the most memorable lunch I’ve had in recent times.

  

Is it the Chicken Stew with Appams at Fountain Plaza in Fort, or the Fish Curry ( Gassi) and Rice at Bharat Lunch Home, or is it the Berry Pulao at Brittania in Ballard Estate, or the Biryani at Olympia, or the White Chicken and huge fluffy Khaboosh Roti at Bagdadi?

  

I’m confused; so I exercise my memory cells a bit more. And suddenly I remember. Oh yes, no doubt about it; it’s the farewell lunch my colleagues gave me, a day before I left Mumbai, at Shalimar Restaurant situated at Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai.

  

We reach at one in the afternoon. At first impression I like the place – an abundance of connoisseurs thoroughly enjoying their food as is evident from their body language, high turnover, no nonsense, no frills, and businesslike atmosphere – appetite builds up in me and I know we have come to the right place. The place is crowded, there’s no place on the ground floor, so we go to the air-conditioned dining hall upstairs.

  I don’t even look at the proffered menu card. I am going to surrender myself to my hosts – they will order and I will just eat.

 

First they order a hot “Chinese” soup which is nice and spicy, with lots of vegetables, sea food and chicken in it, and at the end of it I am voraciously hungry.

  

Then is brought in front of me for my perusal, piping hot and simmering, the signature dish of the place – Tandoori Raan Masala. I nod my approval, and it’s taken away for chopping up and slicing, and a generous portion served to me along with a Tandoori Roti. I put a small piece of the meat in my mouth; it’s very very tasty. Spicy and zesty, it’s quite different from the Raan I’ve eaten at Karim’s in Delhi. Then I bash on regardless with the Tandoori roti and pieces of the delectable raan. In between, I scoop and devour the marrow which tastes delicious.

  

Then I find in front of me a dish of Shalimar Chicken Chilli – a specialty of the place. It’s mouthwatering! For the first time in my life I eat a so-called Chinese dish – Chilli Chicken – with Tandoori Roti, and let me tell you it tastes fantastic.

  

Now my insides are on a delicious spicy fire, my tongue bracing with spicy tang and my nose is watering, so is put in front of my a glass of ice cold Shahi Gulab Falooda to quench my fires. In a word, it’s heavenly; a perfect conclusion to a most enjoyable lunch and its exquisite flavour and divine fragrance remain with me for a long time.

  

Indeed a ‘medley’ meal – a “Chinese” soup, Mughlai Mutton Raan, Chilli Chiken (ostensibly Chinese but whose genre I can’t fathom or classify!), Tandoori Roti and the blissful Falooda. A culinary symbiosis of gourmet food I’ll never forget.

  

Just writing this has made me hungry – really famished and ravenous. How about you, dear reader – where are you heading for lunch?

   

DINNER

   

I look in front of me. I like what I see. I keep seeing, my eyes locked on to the target, as if by some mysterious, yet astonishing, force of attraction. Something is happening within me.

  

Senses heighten; stimulated, aroused in a way I have never felt before. Waves of desire rise within me. I feel tremors of anticipation. My mouth salivates and I lick my lips lasciviously in eager expectation. I feast my eyes hungrily. My heart beats. I feel possessed. Intense passion and lusty craving overwhelms me. I can’t control myself any longer.  Wild with desire, I move towards my target, ready for the kill.

  

No! No! Dear Reader. Just wait a moment. Hold your horses. Don’t let your imagination run wild. The object of my desire – it’s not what you are thinking. What I am looking at, the object of my attention, the focus of my temptation, is a bowl Nihari – two succulent generous pieces of mutton floating in rich nourishing gravy looking so luxuriant and tempting, that I just can’t wait to devour the dish. But I control myself. Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating. It’s sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner.

  

The bowl of Nihari, so luxuriously appetizing; a Khameeri Roti, so soft and fluffy. It looks sumptuous and scrumptious. I move closer. The tempting aroma – so enticing, so blissful – permeates within me, energizes my brain cells, and activates my taste buds. My mouth waters. I am ready to eat.

  

Eating is not a gustatory experience alone; it’s visual and olfactory as well. Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. The Art of Eating. It’s Holistic. Multidimensional. Encompassing all domains of your inner being.

  

If you want to do full justice to good food, you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine eating each and every course, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye. Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”.

  It’s true. I eat my food twice. First in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. And then I do the honours – actually go ahead and eat it and enjoy the delightful experience. 

 

Using my right thumb and forefinger, I lovingly pick small piece of meat from the gravy and delicately place it on my tongue. I close my eyes. Look inside. To focus my conscious energy. To accentuate my awareness. To concentrate. That’s the cardinal principle of the Art of Eating. You must always close your eyes during the process of eating. When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. Focus, eat mindfully, meditatively, honour your taste buds and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.

  The meat is so tender that even a toothless person can eat it. It’s truly “Melt in the mouth” cuisine – like the famous Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow. Soft, succulent, juicy.

 

You don’t chew. You just gently squeeze the meat, softly rolling your tongue against the palate until the meat dissolves releasing its fascinating flavours. It’s sheer bliss. Enlightenment. Gustatory Orgasm. Sensory Resonance. I do not have words to describe the exhilarating sensation.

  

That’s the hallmark of a genuine nourishing and invigorating Nihari, the best part of the thigh muscle, specially selected prime marrow bones with  generous portions of succulent meat, tenderized and marinated with curds, seasoned lovingly in the choicest of spices and dum-cooked to seal in the juices and flavours, slowly and gently, in a gravy carefully thickened with an assortment of flours of wheat, maize and dals as per the season and taste and garnished with thin strips of ginger and fine slices of fresh green chillies and a sprinkling of coriander.

  

I turn my attention to the Kameeri Roti. Holding the roti with my left hand I pull out a piece with my right. The texture is perfect – soft and fluffy. I sample a piece – yummy – it tastes good by itself; and why shouldn’t it? Whole-wheat atta kneaded with plenty of curds, seasoned with a bit of sugar and salt, fermented overnight in a moist cloth, flattened and cooked in a tandoor. Nourishing, luxuriant, ideal with the Nihari.

  

I dip a piece of roti in the thick gravy allowing it to soak in and place it on my tongue. Exquisite. A gentle bite. Tangy ginger strips and sharp chilli. A confluence of contrasting tastes. I absorb the riot of zesty flavours. It’s exciting, invigorating, perks me up and I am ready for what I am going to do next.

  

And what am I going to do next? You knew it, didn’t you? I call for a marrow spoon, dig it into the marrow bone, scoop out some marrow and lick it on my tongue. I close my eyes and I can feel the nourishment coming all the way through. It’s a wonderful feeling.

  

I eat in silence. Mindfully. Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on my tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate my taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within me.

  

The succulent meat. The sumptuous gravy. The luxuriant fluffy Kameeri Roti. It’s a feast worthy of the Gods. An ambrosial repast!

   

I am in a supreme state of bliss. Is this enlightenment? Or gustatory delight.  Maybe it’s meditative eating. Or let’s narrow it down to the art of eating a Nihari.

  

It’s simple. Create a positive eating atmosphere, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness.

In a nutshell, this is ‘The Art of Eating’.

   

Epilogue

  

I used to visit two eateries on 1st Marine Street Dhobi Talao near Metro Cinema in Mumbai – Sassanian when in the mood for Parsi food or maybe a Roast Chicken, or to pick up delicious cakes, biscuits and freshly baked delights from their Boulangerie next-door and Punjabi Fish Mart for earthy deep fried fish best enjoyed piping hot by well fortified cast-iron stomachs on cold damp monsoon evenings.

  

Sometime back, maybe in mid 2005, when I used to live near Churchgate in Mumbai, returning one evening from one of my food-walks, I noticed, in between these two of my favourite eateries, a newly opened restaurant – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – with a takeaway section, from where I picked up a menu card and walked home.

  

Later that night I read the menu card and was delighted to find on it my favourite non-vegetarian delicacy – Nihari. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I partook of the dish.

  

And soon I had my tryst with Nihari and experienced this delightful gustatory affair to remember.

  Dear fellow Foodie – Do let me know of other good places where I can enjoy my favourite Nihari.

   Should I end my Non-Veg day in Mumbai with a deliciously soothing Falooda at Badshah, a thick and yummy Mango milk Shake at Sukh Sagar or Haji Ali or a Kulfi at Chowpatty or an Ice Cream at Rustom – the possibilities are endless!

 Dear Reader, after such a satiating day, for me it’s now – Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Sweet Dreams.    

VIKRAM KARVE

   

vikramkarve@sify.com

   

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

   

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

   http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

     

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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MUMBAI BY NIGHT – EATING OUT

July 6, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA


By


VIKRAM KARVE

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

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

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

Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting). You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant.
It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.

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

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

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

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

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

At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal. And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing. It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.
Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. And do let us know how you enjoyed it!

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Book Review – Pune Food Guide

June 27, 2007

Book Review – TIMES PUNE FOOD GUIDE 2007

[Reviewed by Foodie Vikram Karve]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETAILS OF THE BOOK REVIEWED

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

Reviewed by:

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com