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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

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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

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 Yummy Indian Cuisine – Dabba Gosht – Recipe

October 8, 2007

Want to try dabba gosht – just click the link below

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/dabba-gosht-my-all-time-favorite.htm

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Mumbai Good Food Guide

October 4, 2007

Eating out in Girgaum – click the link below and savor authentic maharashtrian cuisine in the heart of Mumbai

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/mumbai-good-food-guide-eating-out-in-girgaum.htm

happy eating

Vikram Karve

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

     

A Delicious Day in Mumbai

July 12, 2007

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

MUMBAI BY NIGHT – EATING OUT

July 6, 2007

SEAFOOD IN KOLIWADA


By


VIKRAM KARVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy eating!

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com
vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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