Archive for the ‘tea’ Category

Fast Food

March 2, 2007

MY FAVORITE FAST FOOD

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

My wife observes and indulges in (and consequently subjects me to) all types of fasts. She fasts on Mondays, Chaturthies and any occasion she wants to fast. Actually, her “fasts” are not true fasts in the rigorous real sense, only a change of food, to what I call “fast food” which is quite delicious and maybe a bit more calorie-rich than normal food (that’s the “fast food” I’m referring to, not the burgers and pizza you thought!).

 

My favorite fast food is the Kachori. No! No! It’s not the scrumptious Rajasthani style lip-smacking Khasta Kachori I’m referring to, but the Sweet Kachori served by most Udipi eateries in and around Mumbai and Pune.

 

Take boiled mashed potato, add a bit of sabudana peeth (sago flour) for binding, a pinch of salt and sugar and knead into a dough.

 

Roast fresh juicy grated coconut with sugar, khus khus, dry fruit like raisins, cashews, till it is nice and crispy “khamang” – and your filling is ready.

You must roast in pure ghee, as oil is not permitted on a “fast”.

 

Make largish round patties with the potato dough on the outside and a  generous portion of the roasted sweet coconut filling inside and deep fry till nicely crusty, crisp and light brown and your sweet kachori is done (fast and simple isn’t it?).

 

Serve with a katori of whipped sweetened curds and your “fast food” is ready to eat.

 

You will be tempted to break a piece of Kachori, dip it in the curds and then eat it – don’t do it, that’s not the right way to eat sweet kachori and you’ll ruin the experience as the concoction will turn soggy. What you must do is to place a chunk of crisp hot kachori on your tongue and close your eyes. Now savor the “khamang” crunchy taste of the lively roasted coconut filling for some time, then press your tongue on your palate and roll till the heavenly sweet filling and the crisp potato covering amalgamate. It’s really yummy!

 

Now is the time to pop in a spoon of sweet curds, and let the feisty assortment of flavors dance and mingle on your tongue till the food dissolves in your mouth and disappears into you giving you a feeling of supreme satisfaction. [I once saw a movie called “Blow Hot Blow Cold” in the seventies – the art of eating a sweet kachori is similar: hot and cold, hot and cold, crunchy and soft, crunchy and soft, sweet and sour, sweet and sour!].

 

I first tasted the sweet kachori at a place called Apsara near Hirabaug on

Tilak Road

in Pune. It’s still my favorite. Vihar, at Churchgate in Mumbai, serves an excellent sweet kachori too; and I’m sure you’ll find it on the menu of almost all Udipi restaurants.

 

So next time you want to relish your “fast” you know which “fast food” to eat, in addition to the usual sabudana khichadi, sabudana wade and ratalyacha kees.

 

Happy fasting!

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Lavang Lata

February 21, 2007

HERITAGE CUISINE
Lavang Lata at Babumosai

By

VIKRAM KARVE

“Heritage Cuisine” – sounds good isn’t it?

You may presume that this pompous term refers to pretentious traditional high-brow cuisine which adorns the tables of the classes!

In my vocabulary “heritage cuisine” is high-falutin gobbledygook for simple staple down-to-earth local street-food relished by the masses. Like Vada Pav (Mumbai’s “Heritage Burger”), or Puneri Misal, or Kulcha Chole, Katchi Dabeli, Bhel, Kathi Kababs, Baida Roti, Malpua – the list is endless.

There is a delicious sweetmeat called “Lavang Lata” which I tasted for the first time and relished piping hot at Pehelwan’s at the end of Lanka near BHU in Varanasi in the seventies. A cool Lassi ( in winter) or warm milk (in summer), both with dollops of rabdi added, topped up the gastronomic experience.

Later, in the eighties, I came across slightly different versions of Lavang Lata at various eateries, most notably Nathu at Bengali market in New Delhi. But these versions were nowhere close to Pehelwan’s Banarasi Lavang Lata.

Just imagine my surprise, when, during my walk last evening, I chanced upon a delectable Lavang Lata in an out-of-the-way unpretentious sweet shop called ‘Babumosai Bengali Sweets’ tucked away almost in obscurity, way off the beaten track, on Aundh Road on the way to Khadki in Pune.

Actually I was in search of Rasgullas. (Roshogollas, if you want it spelt that way). Having relocated from a ‘happening’ place like Churchgate in the heart of Mumbai to an obscure “back of the beyond” desolate place somewhere in the jungles on the banks of Mula river between Aundh and Sangvi, craving and wandering desperately in my search for ‘heritage food’, I hit the Aundh road past Spicer College towards Khadki, enjoying a refreshing walk between the expanse of the verdant Botanical Gardens and the foliage of Pune University, when in the first building I encountered on my left, I saw a nondescript signboard “Babumosai Bengali Sweets” (maybe the spelling ought to be ‘Babumoshai’) atop a deserted lackluster sweetshop.

There was no one in the shop and the lifeless atmosphere and uninspiring display almost put me off. But having come so far, I decided to give it a try and looked at the sweets on display in trays behind a glass counter – Rasgullas, Sandesh, Rajbhog, Gulab Jamuns, Malai Sandwiches – the ubiquitous ‘Bengali Sweets’; and suddenly a man came out carrying a tray of piping hot Lavang Latas, the very sight of which made my mouth water so much that I ordered one immediately.

I walked outside the shop, stood in the cool evening air, took a small bite of the Lavang Lata, rolled the syrupy hot piece on my eager salivated tongue and closed my eyes in order to enhance my gustatory experience.

I pressed the Lavang Lata upwards with my tongue against the palate, the roof of my mouth, and slowly it disintegrated releasing its heavenly flavour of nutmeg and cardamom. That’s the way you should enjoy Bengali sweetmeats – never bite, swallow and devour in a hurry. Don’t use your teeth; slowly, very slowly, just roll on your tongue and lightly press on the roof of your mouth till the delicacy melts releasing its luxurious flavour and divine fragrance into your gustatory and olfactory systems. And remember, keep your eyes closed, shut yourself to the outside world, focus on your tongue, internalize the experience and transcend to a state of delightful ecstasy, till you feel you are in seventh heaven. That’s the art of eating.

The Lavang Lata is perfect. Not sickly sweet, but tantalizingly tasty, with the subtle essence of its ingredients and seasoning coming through. The rabri and khoya, the raisins and dry fruits, the crispy sweet crust, the spices and most importantly, the exotic fortifying and stimulating taste of clove. It’s sheer bliss. The invigorating taste lingers on my tongue for a long long time , as if for eternity.

Just writing this is making my mouth water. And I am rushing to “Babumosai” once more – this time to sample the Rasgullas, maybe the Sandesh – and I’ll tell you all about it right here.

And I’ll keep writing about all the my experiences with “Heritage Cuisine” and the art of eating.

Dear fellow Foodie – do let me know if you enjoyed reading this.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

Aundh Food Walk

February 15, 2007

Aundh Food Walk

By

Vikram Karve

 

 

Come with me on a food walk in Aundh. Let’s start from the Body Gate or Bremen Chowk end of

DP Road

.

 

As you enter

DP Road

, to your right is a typical fruit juice bar cum pav bhaji open air place called Bala’s. I’m real hungry, so let’s move on.

 

There’s Baker’s Basket Cake shop to your left – it’s not my birthday, and cakes are not what I have in mind to satiate my pangs of hunger!

 

Just ahead there’s Bananas – a pizza, pasta fast food joint and Baskin Robbins. Looks good – maybe some other time.

 

Now we come to Deepak Sweets. Let’s stop and watch the cute young things relish  Bhel, Pani Puri, Chaat, Kachori, Samosas, Dhoklas and gorge on rasagullas and sweets.

 

Mann Dairy – Arguably the second best lassi in Pune (nearly as good as Shiv
Kailas opposite Pune Railway Station). A must on every food walk in Aundh. And next door is Radhika – an Idli / Dosa place. A little ahead on the opposite side of the road are Vishi’s and Mongini’s Snack and Bake shops. And just before Parihar Chowk is Arya’s pure veg and then there is a dark looking udipi managed permit room bar and restaurant of the ubiquitous type one sees outside every suburban railway station in Mumbai.

 

Cross the

ITI Road

and reach Parihar Sweets for a quick snack of Khasta Kachori, Samosa, Batata Vada and Jilebis. A little ahead is the unassuming Diwadkar [ of Karjat Batata Wada fame] an unpretentious down-to-earth eatery for Value For Money snacks.

 

Then comes my favorite multicuisine café named Polka Dots. Tasty food, but does not satiate!

 

And then we have the popular Shivsagar – A spruced up version of the ubiquitous Udipi eatery on finds in every nook and corner of Mumbai and Pune. And on the other side is the road is Jerry’s and Tasty Bite Takeaway. Doesn’t look appetizing. And the counter at Spencer’s.

 

DP Road

turns left and we come to Rasoi – a

Tandoori Place

which appears run of the mill and doesn’t look inviting. A furlong ahead is the classy Seasons and at the end

DP Road

, where it meets ITI road is Sarjaa – a Mughlai, Punjabi family place.

 

Turn left on

ITI Road

and you will cross
Kobe- the Sizzlers place, Pizza Hut, Pulse Ozone with its cafes and basement sweet stall called Kadai, a van selling Burgers and a lady making dosas.

 

And of course we have the newly opened McDonalds opposite Convergys and on the

Aundh Road

towards Khadki there’s the Spartan Irani-clone Maharashtra Restaurant, the Spicer’s Bakery stall and Babumoshai Bengali Sweets for roshogullas and lavang lata.

 

That’s all there is in Aundh. If you are a Foodie think twice before you decide to settle down in Aundh. You’ll have to go all the way to Camp or

Pune
City to relish authentic stuff.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

 

 

 

 

Rustic Indian Chicken Curry Dhaba Style

February 15, 2007

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

By

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Till next time,

Happy Eating

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

http://vikramkarve.gather.com

 

 

 

 

Delicious Lamingtons at Spicer Bakery Pune

February 15, 2007

LAMINGTON AT SPICER

( a melt in the mouth treat )

By

VIKRAM KARVE 

In the evening I often go for a walk on Aundh Road from Bremen Chowk towards the railway line at Khadki. It’s one of the best places to walk in Pune, wide roads with plenty of greenery and foliage on both sides. And on my way back I treat myself with a Lamington at the Spicer College Bakery Shop. I delicately place the soft delicacy between my lips, press and squeeze a piece of the wonderful stuff on my tongue. I close my eyes in order to enhance the experience of supreme bliss as the Lamington melts in my mouth and the chocolatty-coconutty luscious syrupy sweetness permeates into me.   

A Lamington is a delicious cube of sponge cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut. They originated in Australia around 1898 in what later became the state of Queensland. Whilst the origin of the name for the Lamington cannot be accurately established, there are several theories. 

Lamingtons are most likely named after Charles Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. However, the precise reasoning behind this is not known, and stories vary. According to one account, the dessert resembled the homburg hats favoured by Lord Lamington. Another tells of a banquet in Cloncurry during which the governor accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of gravy, and then threw it over his shoulder, causing it to land in a bowl of desiccated coconut or peanut butter. A diner thought of replacing the gravy with chocolate and thus created the lamington as we know it today. Ironically, Lord Lamington was known to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, once referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”. Another theory is that they were named after Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor.

 The Spicer College Bakery Lamington is my favourite – and can you imagine it costs just Eight Rupees [that’s six Lamingtons for a Dollar, for those who think in Dollars!].  The chocolate icing keeps the cake moist. The desiccated coconut protects it from drying out in the hot climate. And it’s quite a juicy generous lip-smacking treat! 

The Spicer College Bakery serves a variety of healthy goodies like carrot cake, nut cake, doughnuts, samosas, soy patties, soya milk; but, for me, it’s always the yummy succulent Lamington! 

VIKRAM KARVE

Pune, India

 vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.gather.com  

Kerala Cuisine in Mumbai

February 15, 2007

FOUNTAIN
PLAZA
(KERALA CUISINE IN THE HEART OF MUMBAI)

By

Vikram Karve 

  

  

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

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

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

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

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

  

  

VIKRAM KARVE  

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

  

  

A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE

February 5, 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, 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 easy on your wallet, and serves good wholesome food in a relaxed clean ambiance.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com