Archive for the ‘rice’ Category

Biryani

June 27, 2007

MY FAVORITE PLACES FOR BIRYANI

By

VIKRAM KARVE

When I was a small boy living in Pune in the sixties, there were only two places where I liked the Biryani: Dorabjee in Pune Camp and Good Luck at Deccan.

Now, there are a dime a dozen restaurants serving oily, greasy, fiery-hot and over-spiced concoctions of rice masquerading as Biryani. A good Biryani must be savory, not spicy; fragrant, not pungent; it should make your stimulate and titillate your tongue, not set it on fire, make your mouth water, not your nose and eyes!

As far as Poona (Pune) is concerned, even today, I think it’s only Dorabjee in Camp and Good Luck at Deccan that serve the good Biryani in Pune. Dorabjee’s mutton biryani, with its succulent spicy tasty mutton with a garnish of burnt onions is easily the best, most tasty, and flavorsome biryani in town. In case you have come across some other place, do let me know.

On first impressions, how do you judge a Biryani? Try the spread test. Pick a little biryani in your fingers and sprinkle it on an empty plate. The grains of rice must not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of meat to must be succulent, clear and dry, not greasy. Then lift the plate and smell the pieces of meat – it must be slightly aromatic (the fragrance and aroma of marinated spices) not sharp or piquant.

At Hyderabad, the home of Biryanis, I’ve tried many – Madina, Shadab, Alpha, Azizia – but my favorite is Paradise in Secunderabad.

I’ve enjoyed many a decent Biryani while traveling on the railways, especially the South Central railway at places like Guntakal and Vijaywada, but the best was a surprise Malabari Biryani (embellished with a boiled egg)which I picked up on the run from the refreshment room at Ernakulam, Kerala.

Vizag too has many good biryanis, of which, I remember the one at Alkapuri near Jagdamba junction. I’ve had many not so memorable biryanis in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and a few other places.

In Mumbai, there is Delhi Darbar, Lucky, Shalimar, Fountain Plaza and Stadium, near Churchgate Station, but my all time favorite is Olympia on Colaba Causeway. They have both Mutton and Chicken Biryani, but it’s Olympia’s Chicken Biryani that I relish the most. Yes, in my opinion, Olympia serves the perfect chicken biryani.

I used to go for a nice long walk in the evening, and when I was truly famished, I used to walk into Olympia and order half a plate of Chicken Biryani. Olympia is a no nonsense eatery with fast turnover and the biryani comes instantly. It looks fresh and appetizing, and will pass the “spread test” with flying colors.

My mouth waters. Generous scrumptious chicken, tasty rice, a bit of the fried potato – it’s delicious. I do not have words to describe the delightful experience. I squeeze just a tiny drop of lemon in my glass of water and drink. This enhances the aftertaste as I walk home feeling invigorated and happy. Olympia has lots on its menu, but for me it’s always Chicken Biryani.

My favorites: Dorabjee in Pune for Mutton Biryani and Olympia in Mumbai for Chicken Biryani.

I love Biryani. Can anyone please tell me of some new places where I can enjoy real good biryani?

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

TV AND THE TRENCHERMAN

June 27, 2007

TV and the Trencherman

 

By

 

Vikram Karve

 

 

 

 

I try to masquerade as a connoisseur of good food, a gourmet, but in actual fact I am somewhat of a trencherman – a down to earth foodie with a hearty appetite who loves eating simple authentic earthy food. That’s why I prefer to prowl the streets and peep into kitchens in perpetual search of the real wholesome tasty stuff rather than wine and dine in high-falutin restaurants serving gourmet cuisine.

 

Right now, it’s raining cats and dogs, and confined indoors in this back of beyond outskirt of Pune, I’ve just finished watching “Zaika India” – a foodie programme hosted by Vinod Dua on NDTV India. The very sight of the Delhi’s delicious street food – seekh and boti kababs, nihari, biryani, stew and korma at Karim’s, phirnee and habshi mithai, prince paan and a glimpse of Moti Mahal not only brought back mouthwatering memories but also gave me immense vicarious epicurean delight. Last week Vinod Dua foodwalked the streets of Mumbai, starting with the sampling of kababs, nihari, meats and sweets like the incomparable aflatoon and heavy duty malpua near Minara Masjid on Mohammed Ali Road and ending up with the inimitable green chilli ice cream at Bachellor’s opposite Chowpatty.

 

I really enjoy watching Zaika India and am looking forward to more with great expectations. I only wish Vinod Dua slows down a bit and delves more deeply into the food.

 

As of now, my favourite foodie TV programme is “The Foodie” on Times Now TV. For a year or so now, Kunal Vijayakar has kept us enthralled by his gastronomic adventures all over India, even exploring into the inferiors and the mofussil areas in search of our glorious culinary heritage. He shows us the food being cooked, which enhances the enjoyment and learning experience, but it is the expressions of genuine passion on his face, as he devours the freshly cooked delights, that leave the foodies hungering for more. His episodes on Lucknow, Udipi, Kolkata, Amritsar, Punjab, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kurseong, Darjeeling, and the recent one on Pondicherry,were truly mouthwateringly memorable.  The ‘Tea’ dishes of Kurseong, Kababs of Lucknow, Prawn Palmyra (tadgola?) of Pondicherry, and Butter Chicken and Fish Amritsari of Amritsar were unforgettable. I wonder when his gastronomic adventures are going to take him to Bihar, East UP, Varanasi, Kolhapur, Vidharbha, Orissa, Coastal Andhra and many other such places yet to be explored by The Foodie.

 

I enjoyed the Kerala and Mumbai episodes of the recently started “Secret Kitchen” by Bikramjit on CNN IBN and wait in eager anticipation for what’s going to come up in this interesting out of the ordinary programme.

 

“A Matter of Taste” by Vir Sanghvi, on Travel and Living, has got the royal touch. Fine dining in royal style though he did hit the streets of Delhi researching ‘Indian-Chinese’ cuisine.

 

I loved “Good Food” on NDTV by the vivacious and lively Seema Chandra who gave us a peep into high society and celebrity kitchens. She too seems to be an ardent foodie and her face lights up as she relishes food. As a Foodie hostess she rightly displays more interest in the eating, rather than the cooking, of the delicious dishes. I couldn’t catch up with this programme of late – have they taken it off or have the timings changed?

 

And of course I watch all the lip smacking food shows like Planet Food, Floyd’s India, Bordain, Taste of India by Padmalakshmi, Madhur Jaffrey’s show et al on Travel and Living and BBC, and Mejwani and Khavaiyya on the Marathi channels. And of course I never miss the pioneering “Khana Khazana” by Sanjeev Kapoor.

 

I love watching foodie programmes on TV.

 

The greatest love is the love of food [even if it is eaten vicariously!]

 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

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

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

 

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Eating Out in Churchgate Mumbai

May 29, 2007

Kheema Pav, Bun Maska and Chai at Churchgate

by
VIKRAM KARVE

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

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

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

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://vikramkarve.livejournal.com

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve
 

Khichdi Samrat

May 24, 2007

 

 

 

 

MOUTHWATERING MUMBAI MEMORIES

KHICHDI SAMRAT 

By 

VIKRAM KARVE 

  

 

 

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.

  

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

  

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

vikramkarve@sify.com 

 

 

  

 

 

 

India and its food – Eating Out

May 17, 2007

EATING OUT IN
SOUTH MUMBAI AND PUNE

 

MY FAVOURITE FOOD AND WHERE I EAT IT
 

By


VIKRAM KARVE

(Vikram Karve’s Good Food Guide to eating out in
South Mumbai and Pune)

 

I love good food. And I love walking around searching for good food – on my frequent ‘food walks’ as I call them. Let me share with you, dear fellow foodie, some of my favourite eateries. Most of them are in
South Mumbai, near Churchgate, where I lived for six of the best years of my life, a few (where mentioned) are in Pune which is my home town and where I stay now.

 

 

Read on. It’s my very own Vikram Karve’s Value For Money Good Food Guide. I’ve walked there and eaten there. It’s a totally random compilation as I write as I remember and I may have missed out some of my favourites but I’ll add them on, in subsequent parts, as and when memory jogs me and also keep adding new places I discover during my food walks and trails. Try some places and let me know whether you liked it.

 

 

Vada Pav – CTO Vada Pav (Ashok Satam’s Stall) alongside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) at Flora Fountain ( Hutatma Chowk). Or at Sahaydri at Churchgate. In Pune, the ubiquitous Joshi or Rohit or Siddhivinayak Vadewale but their vadas are not as crisp or zesty as Mumbai’s CTO vada.

 

 

Misal PavVinay Health Home in Girgaum . Walk down Marine Drive, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Ladies Hostel ( it’s called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, walk a bit and Vinay is to your right. In Pune try Ramnath on

Tilak Road

or Bedekar in Narayan Peth.

 

 

Kheema PavStadium. Next to Churchgate Station. Kyani at Dhobi Talao.

 

 

Seekh KebabsAyubs (Chotte Mian). Take the lane to the left of Rhythm House Music Store at Kalaghoda and let your nose guide you. Or else head for Bade Mian near Regal or Sarvi at Nagpada. Sadly there seems to be a dearth of authentic value-for-money kabab joints in Pune.

 

 

Jeera ButterIdeal Bakery. Kandewadi, Girgaum. And try the sugarcane juice at Rasvanti next door.

 

 

Chicken Stew ( Kerala Style), Malabar Paratha, Mutton Korma, Fish Curry and Appams – FountainPlaza. In the lane off Handloom House. Fort. [Brings back nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam Kochi (
Cochin)]

 

 

Chicken Biryani
Olympia. Colaba Causeway. In Pune it’s Dorabjee & Sons restaurant on Dastur Meher road off Sarbatwala Chowk in Pune Camp or Goodluck in
Deccan. I like the Biryani at
Blue Nile near GPO and George on

East Street

too.

 

 

Mutton BiryaniShalimar. Bhendi Bazaar. I like the Chicken Chilly and Raan – it’s exquisite, like Karim’s of
Delhi.

 

 

Dabba Gosht
Delhi Darbar,

Grant Road

or Colaba. In Pune try Sadanand at Baner.

 

 

Malvani Cuisine – Sachivalaya Gymkhana Canteen. Opposite Mantralaya. Nariman Point. Bombil Fry, Pomfret masala, Kombdi (Chicken) Vada and Lunch Thali.

 

 

Gomantak Cuisine – Sandeep Gomantak.

Bazargate Street

. Fort.

 

 

White Chicken, Dabba Gosht, Chicken Masala and Khaboosh RotiBaghdadi. Near Regal. Off Colaba Causeway.

 

 

Nihari Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar. Near Metro.

 

 

Nalli NihariNoor Mohammadi. Bhendi Bazaar.

 

 


Berry PulaoBrittania. Ballard Estate.

 

 

Puri Bhaji – Pancham Puriwala.

Bazargate street

. Opposite CST Station (VT).

 

 

Kolhapuri Cuisine – I go to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’ at Peru Gate Sadashiv Peth in Pune for authentic Kolhapuri Pandhra Rassa, Tambda Rassa and Kheema vati. In
Kolhapur it’s Opal.

 

 

Gulab JamunKailash Parbat. 1stPasta Lane. Colaba Causeway.

 

 

RasgullaBhaishankar Gaurishankar. CP Tank.

 

 

KhichdiKhichdi Samrat.

VP Road

. CP Tank.

 

 

Vegetarian ThaliBhagat Tarachand. Mumbadevi. Zaveri Bazar. And of course, Samrat, Churchgate. In Pune it’s Shreyas on

Apte Road

and

Satara Road

, Panchami on

Satara Road

and Durvankur on

Tilak Road

.

 

 

Navrattan KurmaVihar.

JT Road

. Shanker Jaikishan Chowk. Opp Samrat. Churchgate.

 

 

Veg Burger and Chicken Cafreal Croissant – Croissants. Churchgate. Or Burger King at the end of

East Street

in Pune.

 

 

Tea while browsing books – Cha-Bar.
Oxford Bookstore. Churchgate.

 

 

Just a refreshing cup of Tea, Irani style – Stadium. Churchgate. Goodluck, Pune.

 

 

Ice CreamRustoms, Churchgate and Bachellor’s, Chowpatty (green chilli ice cream). In Pune Ganu Shinde and Kawre on

Laxmi Road

. Or Gujar Mastani House on

Satara Road

near City pride for the unique delicious thirst quenching Mastani.

 

 

Pav Bhaji – Lenin Pav Bhaji Stall. Khau Galli. New Marine Lines. Near SNDT. Sardar, Tardeo. Sukh Sagar, Opera House.

 

 

Jalebi Pancharatna Jalebi House. Near Roxy. Opera House.

 

 

Milk Shakes, Juices and uniquely flavored ice creams – Bachellor’s. Opposite Chowpatty.

 

 

Stuffed ParathasSamovar. JehangirArtGallery. Chaitanya, opp FergussonCollege, Pune

 

 

Grilled Meat, Sizzlers and SteaksChurchill. Colaba Causeway. Sundance, Churchgate. Sassanian, near Metro. Alps, behind Taj,
Kobe and Sizzlers The Place on

Moledina Road

next to Manney’s in Pune.

 

 

Sea food – Anant Ashram. Khotachiwadi. Girgaum. And so many places around Fort – Mahesh, Apoorva, Trishna, Fountain Inn, Bharat, Ankur .

 

 

Non Veg Multi Cuisine – Jimmy Boy near

Horniman Circle

 

 

Apple Pie and Ginger Biscuits – Yazdani Bakery.

Cawasji Patel Street

. Between PM Road and

Veer Nariman Road

. Fort.

 

 

Cakes – Sassanian Boulangerie. 1stMarine Street. Near Metro.

 

 

Buns, Breads and Pastries – Gaylord Bake Shop. Churchgate.

 

 

Falooda – Badshah. Crawford Market. Shalimar, Bhendi Bazar.

 

 

Curds – Parsi Dairy. Princess Street.

 

 

Sandwiches – Marz-o-rin.

Main Street

.

MG Road

. Pune.

 

 

Chole Bhature – Monafood.

Main Street

. Pune. Darshan,

Prabhat Road

Pune.

 

Shrewsbury Biscuits and Choco-Walnut cake– Kayani Bakery.

East Street

. Pune.

 

Mutton Cutlet Curry – Good Luck Pune

Veg Cutlet – Swagat Dadar TT Mumbai

 

Lamingtons, carrot cake, patties, samosas, cakes, soy milk – Spicer Bakery shop,

Spicer
College,

Aundh Road

and their outlet off

Main Street

in Camp

 

The mere thought of
Shrewsbury biscuits and Lamingtons evokes in me a sensation I cannot describe. I am feeling nostalgic and am off to Pune – for Shrewsbury at Kayani, wafers at Budhani, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale, Mutton Biryani and Dhansak at Dorabjee, Misal at Ramnath, Kachori at Apsara, Sizzlers at The Place, Pandhra Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur, Mango Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde, Mastani at Sujata and Kavare, Bhel at Saras Baug, Canal and Kalpana Bhel,  and on the banks of Khadakvasla lake, Pithla Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji and tak on top of Sinhagarh Fort, Chinese at Kamling (Oh no. Sadly it’s closed down so I’ll go across to the end of

East Street

to the East End Chinese takeaway next to Burger King. And Latif too has metamorphosed into a takeaway).

 

 

And guess what? The moment I reach Pune, I’ll walk across the station and enjoy a refreshing Lassi at Shiv Kailas. And then walk down in the hot sun to

Main Street

. One thing I’ll miss is the non-veg samosas at erstwhile Naaz on the
West End corner at the entrance to

Main Street

. The good old Naaz and Kamling are two places I really miss. Good Luck in Deccan and
Blue Nile and George in Camp still goes strong and theirs Biryani is as good as ever. But what’s happened to
Sunrise, I wonder? The place is demolished; has the café been relocated?

   

Right now I’m near Aundh in Pune and I’m busy discovering interesting eating places. The multicuisine Polka Dots at Parihar Chowk for it’s Roasts and Shepherd’s Pie and Puddings, Season’s and Sarjaa for family dining, a few down-to-earth takeaways and Maharashtra Café near Bremen Chowk look promising, Diwadkar for Misal and vada pav, Spicers for Lamingtons and cakes et al, Babumoshai for roshogullas and lavang lata, Shiv Sagar for Pav Bhaji, and the usual Udipi fare, a place called Thomson which serves non veg Kerala cuisine, Delhi Kitchen which I’m planning to try but did not venture into as it was deserted (crowded ambience and busy rapid turnover are the leitmotif of a good eatery), Diwadkars for Bhel, Vada Pav, Misal and Mann Dairy for a delicious lassi.

 

 

I foodwalked in Aundh and was thoroughly disappointed. In Aundh there are all the usual fast food pizza and burger joints, some high-falutin restaurants and a few nondescript commonplace characterless eateries serving run of the mill stuff; but sadly there are very few authentic value for money down-to-earth no nonsense Spartan eateries around here where I can relish genuine cuisine to my heart’s delight.

 

 


South Mumbai is a foodie’s delight! Sadly, Aundh is certainly not a foodie destination. Or is it? Anyone know any good value for money food eateries around here? Or do I have to go all the way to

Pune
City or Camp?

 

 

Dear fellow foodies. Please do send in your comments so I can keep updating. Meanwhile I keep exploring Pune for good food and shall soon come out with my very own authentic food guide to eating out in Pune. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

 

Happy Eating!

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

 

Heritage Cuisine of India – Kolhapuri

May 17, 2007

INDIA AND ITS HERITAGE CUISINE – “KOLHAPURI” FOOD

byVIKRAM 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 of Sadashiv Peth, 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 near Mehendale Garage the other day and was delighted to find that a branch of “Purepur Kolhapur” has stared 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 its 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 highfalutin 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 Punjabi / Mughlai fare you eat day in and day out. There is a world of a difference between pseudo- Kolhapuri and authentic-Kolhapuri food. 

There are a number of good authentic Kolhapuri Cuisine Restaurants in Pune. Of course, when we visit
Kolhapur, we eat at Opal. And there must be many other excellent places too. And remember to end a satiating Kolhapuri meal with a cool soothing Mastani!

 

I was disappointed to find not even a single authentic Kolhapuri restaurant listed in various Good Food Guides to Mumbai. I walked all over
South Mumbai, experimented, tasted, sampled, but there was no joy. No Kolhapuri Taat anywhere, and no pandhara and tambda rassa even a la carte.  Some places did feature a “Kolhapuri” dish,but 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 do not know where you get genuine Kolhapuri cuisine in Mumbai, Delhi,
Bangalore or any of the Metros. If you, dear fellow Foodie, know of an authentic Kolhapuri Restaurant, will you be so good as to let us all know?
 

Happy Eating! 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

 

KORMA

May 8, 2007

KORMA – a simple dish

 By  VIKRAM KARVE 

Long back, in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s I think, in Bareilly, we once went for a meal in a restaurant called Rio, if I remember correctly, and I wonder if it still exists. As everyone ordered chicken and veg dishes, I wanted to have mutton that day, and in the list of the usual mutton dishes I spotted Mutton Korma and decided to eat it. Inquisitive, I wanted to know what “Korma” meant, so I asked, and they told me that Korma means gravy made without haldi (turmeric). Is this a fact? Let’s leave that to the experts! I was curious, so they allowed me into the kitchen and let me see this simple dish being prepared – this is the first non-veg recipe I learnt, and I make it often because it is simple and straightforward to cook. Let me share it with you. Heat pure ghee [yes, pure ghee] in a vessel [I never pressure cook meat as I feel slow cooking brings out the taste]; add the whole masalas [tejpatta, cardamom (choti and badi elaichi), laung, dalchini, kali miri (peppercorn)], sauté till they start crackling, and then put in lots of finely chopped onions and fry till brown and crisp, add ginger garlic paste, red chillies, and fry till the moisture evaporates, then add the mutton pieces, and stir lightly, roasting the mutton in its own juices till dry. Now add whipped curds, and let the mutton cook in the curds, stirring very slightly from time to time, and when it becomes dry and starts sticking to the bottom, add water, cover, and simmer on slow fire, stirring once in a while, till done. When almost ready, add salt to taste, a little cardamom powder for flavour, give a final simmering boil to the curry, garnish with fresh coriander, and the Mutton Korma is ready to eat with chapatti, roti, pav, or rice, whatever you like. 

I like cooking and eating mutton korma – it’s simple to cook, no fancy laborious time-consuming preparations and marinades, it’s not too spicy and tastes nice and mild, and the dish is ready to eat in half an hour. About the “turmeric” part, will someone please enlighten us? I cook korma without turmeric but I’ve seen recipes of korma which include turmeric. I love a veg dish called Navratan Korma – it’s nice and sweetish, I don’t know how to make it, but from the taste looks like it too doesn’t contain turmeric.  Happy Cooking and Blissful Eating VIKRAM KARVE

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

Pune Food Guide

April 25, 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 2007Published by
Ravi Dhariwal for Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd.
New Delhi
ISBN: 81-89906-09-7Pages: 232Price: Rs. 100/-Easily available at all book stores. 

 

 

Reviewed by: 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

 

 

 

Samovar

February 23, 2007

A Relaxed Lunch in Arty Ambiance

By

Vikram Karve

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

VIKRAM KARVE

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

Berry Pulao

February 23, 2007

Berry Pulao at Britannia

by

Vikram Karve

   

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

Happy Eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com