24 March 2014

Navroze Celebrations with Bawi Bride

 Inspite of being a Bawi myself, I'm constantly craving for good, traditional Parsi food. It's not something I eat on a regular basis or that gets cooked at home. So whenever my dear friend and fabulous cook Perzen Patel aka Bawi Bride invites me over, I never refuse because I know a food filled evening awaits. Perzen's blog and subsequently her catering kitchen started off because she had got married and needed to start cooking traditional Parsi food for her family. Armed with a couple of cookbooks and determination she's mastered the art of Parsi cooking. 

She called a bunch of us foodies to her place to celebrate Navroze is the Irani new year, and marks the spring equinox. Navroze is celebrated by laying a table with different elements of nature which are meant to symbolize good luck in the coming year. The celebrations are incomplete without a hearty meal, which is what I was most looking forward too.

I was hoping and praying Perzen would cook some of her signature 'Grandpa's Kheema Kababs'. The recipe actually comes from her grandfather who would make these at home for breakfast every Sunday. They're absolutely delicious. I could easily eat one dozen and still want more. I love that they're not greasy and the kheema is perfect to taste.

Grandpa's Kheema Kababs

For mains we had Sali Gosh and Mamaiji's Red Prawn curry. Sali Boti is one of the most well-known dishes in Parsi cuisine. Sali gosh is similar except that it contains mutton pieces with the bone, as the host explained to us. The mutton was perfectly cooked, tender and fell right off the bone. Coupled with the crunchy sali this dish was absolutely perfect. We ate this with some lovely bread that Perzen herself baked. (Yes, she even bakes her bread at home!)

Sali gosh, Kachubar, Mamaiji's Red Prawn Curry (left to right)

All Mamaiji's (maternal grandmother) have their own trademark curry recipe. Mine makes a lovely red curry with basa fish. Perzen's grandmother left behind for her this red curry recipe with prawns. I loved this tangy, coconutty, flavorful curry which reminded me of my granny's curry. One could taste the prawn flavor in each bite. The curry goes perfectly with white steamed rice and kachubar which is a Bawa side-salad.

I have a huge sweet tooth, and lagan nu custard is one of my all time favorites. This is a staple Parsi dessert and weddings and parties, so I've had my share of custard. But Perzen's Lagan nu custard was perfect in every way. Loved the taste and the melt-in-your mouth consistency. 

Lagan nu custard
Then there was Kopra Pak. I'm not much of a coconut person when it comes to desserts, but again this changed my opinion. It had a lovely rose flavor and the coconut does not dominate. Special mention to the fact that it's pink!

Kopra Pak
Now anyone can follow a recipe and cook. The mark of a real chef is being able to innovate. Hats off to Perzen for creating something called 'Lagan nu custard ice cream'. The recipe came to her mind after she had made excess Lagan nu custard one day and did not want to throw it away. She decided to innovate and experiment. The result is a dessert which combines the goodness of a creamy ice cream with chunks of actual custard inside. This is something I'm surely ordering.

Lagan nu Custard Ice cream

All-in-all such a fun food-filled evening. Met some wonderful people. Had some lovely conversations. And ate some delicious food. There could've been no better start to the new year. Thanks Bawi Bride for inviting us so warmly into your home. Do check out her blog (www.bawibride.com) where she posts her recipes and her menu. 

19 March 2014

Mad Over Donuts (MOD) introduces Cakelings

Donuts in India are synonymous with the brand Mad Over Donuts (MOD). Everyone's been going to them for their donut fix since years now. I made meals ouble and Dark Knight in my college days. They recently launched their range of cupcakes called 'Cakelings'. Firstly, I really like the name cakelings. Its a  play on the word 'duckling'. These cakelings are slightly smaller than a regular cupcake size, hence the name. 
Now I wonder why MOD had to go launch cupcakes, since they were an exclusive donut brand. I guess the cupcake fever and demand spares no one. We were called for a Cakeling Judging session where we were made to try out all the different cupcakes and give our feedback and rate them. 

Cakelings all ready to be devoured
MOD offers 8 different varieties of cakelings. They are each priced at Rs. 65/- with a 'buy 5 get 1' scheme available. 

  • Berry Bliss: Blueberry icing on a vanilla cupcake.
  • Lemon Swirl: Lemon frosting with sugar on a vanilla cupcake
  • Rich Crumble with oreo: Buttery, oreo frosting on a chocolate cupcake
  • Strawberry & Chocolate: Strawberry flavoured frosting, topped with chocolate sprinkles on a chocolate cupcake. 
  • Caramel Banana: Salted caramel icing on a vanilla cupcake. 
  • Nutella Frost: Nutella butter cream on a chocolate cupcake
  • Chocolicious: Swirl of chocolate ganache on a dense chocolate cupcake
  • Coffee Cream: Coffee buttercream frosting on a chocolate cupcake

I absolutely loved the Chocolicious. This was a lovely, dense, rich chocolate cake topped with creamy chocolate ganache. My favorite of the night! I also loved the Coffee cream cupcake. Perfect for coffee lovers who don't like their desserts too sweet. My next favorite was the Caramel Banana. I liked the salted caramel flavor, inspite of not being able to taste the banana.
Skip all three fruit-flavored cakelings. I found them to be too sweet. Would've loved to taste more real fruit in them. 
Special mention to the cute packaging they come in which makes it a perfect gifting option.

I walked away with a crazy sugar rush, smile on my face and sugar on my lips. Not to forget some take away donuts. Thank you Mad Over Donuts!

18 March 2014

Branded Bawi Recommends: South Indian Thali at Banana Leaf

I will begin by saying this is not a comparison between the South Indian fare that is available in the suburbs to that available in Central and South Mumbai. Matunga remains and forever will remain undisputed king of South Indian cuisine. Having said that, there are a lot more options available this side of the Sea Link when it comes to good South Indian Food. 
I have been visiting Banana Leaf in Andheri, since 5 odd years now and the food has always been exceptionally good, and the restaurant packed to its brim. Apart from the regular Udipi fare of idli-dosa they serve traditional kormas, curries, appams, stews, and rice dishes like Bisibele bhaath. They also do crazy dosas like choco walnut dosa, pav bhaji dosa and even a Rajni dosa!
What I ate when I last went, and strongly recommend is their South Indian thali. This thali is not one of those unlimited, all-you-can eat ones, but that doesn't matter. It took two hungry women to get through the thali, and we still had leftovers after we were done.

South Indian Thali

The thali comes with two fluffy, fragrant appams and papad. The dishes include vegetable korma, pataal dal, malabar curry, rasam vada, tendli chana and curd. Special mention to the flavourful malabar curry which reminded me of an Indianised Thai curry. The rasam vada was also good, the rasam bursting with a tangy, spicy taste. We gorged on the Bisibele Bhaath inspite of being stuffed. For sweets we had payasam and mysore pak. I loved the jaggery filled payasam too.For Rs. 275/- plus taxes, its a moderately priced thali, and a good option if you're in the mood for some traditional South Indian fare in the suburbs.
Address: Banana Leaf, Shubham CHS, Opposite Vikram Petrol Pump, Juhu Versova link road, 7 Bungalows, Andheri west, Mumbai.
Phone: 022-26239999.

13 March 2014

Barrio: Review

We have become so much more conscious about what we eat now. Gone are the days of reckless bingeing on heavy Indian gravies or spicy, MSG filled Chindian food. The foodie now wants healthy fare without compromising on the taste. And we are spoilt for choice with all the new options coming up. Case in point being Barrio. Recently opened in the suburbs of Versova, they hold true to their tagline of Eat-Drink-Love. 
Situated within a fitness studio called, Inch by Inch Body Temple, they promise to serve up some healthy, wholesome yet delicious food. We visited one sunny afternoon for lunch, and we were the only ones there, since its just a week old. They don't even have printed menus yet, so we read the dishes off a printed paper. 

Ambiance: Step into Barrio, and you forget the noise and heat outside. A beautiful garden area with outside seating. Tables well spaced away from each other so you don't bump elbows with the diner next to you. Lovely wooden furniture, chandeliers hanging from the roof and an open kitchen. We sat next to a beautiful pool which was so serene and relaxing.

Service: Warm, friendly staff. They fielded all our food questions happily. We got our food within 15 minutes of placing the order. So no teething troubles...!

Food: They have an extensive menu comprising some delicious all day breakfast, waffles, egg preparations, salads, sandwiches, burgers, mains, juices, smoothies and desserts, if you decide to binge. Everything has a healthy twist to it. For example, the sandwiches are made with multigrain bread served with sweet potato fries. 

Soba Noodle Salad

The Soba Noodle Salad (Rs. 295/-) with teriyaki chicken, thai chilli, crushed peanuts and spicy soy dressing had a lovely Thai flavor to it without being overtly strong. Fresh crisp greens, smooth well-flavored noodles and the crunch of peanuts make this a light meal by itself.

Roast Peppers and Chickpea Salad

This salad  had roast peppers, chickpeas with roquette, feta, onions, za'atar and lime dressing. (Rs. 275/-) What I loved about both the salads was that they weren't doused in dressing, were very light yet filled with crunch and flavor. I'm totally hooked onto the salads here, even though I'm not much of a salad person.

Omelette with spinach mushroom and tomato
Do try some of the all day breakfast menu when you visit. We had a fluffy egg-white omelette with spinach, mushroom and tomato. At Rs. 155/- its totally value for money. The omelette is served along some multi-grain bread and sweet potato fries. The star of the dish was the sweet potato fries. They taste just like regular fries, but are so much healthier.

Brown Rice Stir Fry
The next on the list was the Brown Rice Stir Fry with almonds, mushrooms, zucchini and peppers. Absolute winner this dish was. I loved the al-dente brown rice, and the soy sauce stir fry it was cooked in. The almonds, zucchini and mushrooms gave it a wonderful crunch. Such a wholesome bowl this was. 

There is a long list of juices, shots (the non-alcoholic, healthy ones) and smoothies on the menu. They're made with 100% fresh fruits and have no added sugar. The coconut water with lemon, mint and ginger (Rs. 165/-) was refreshingly cool for the hot, summer day. It had a lovely after-taste of mint & ginger.The orange, pineapple and mint (Rs. 165/-) was also fresh and tangy. Special mention to the bottles we were served in, along with the cute twisty straws. 

Will I go visit again? Most definitely, yes. I'm going to try the savoury waffles next. Or maybe the quinoa burger. So much to eat. So little time!

My Ratings:
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Food: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5 (We paid 450 bucks per head. Absolute steal!)

Situated inside Inch by Inch Body temple,
Next to D-Mart,
Versova, Andheri.
Phone: 022- 69907990
Website: www.barrio.co.in
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barriomumbai
Instagram & Twitter: @barriomumbai

10 March 2014

Rajdhani's Rasovara Review

The name 'Rajdhani' has become synonymous with Gujarati and Rajasthani thalis. They've been in the thali business since 5 decades, serving authentic and homely food. They've come a long way since then, having now established at 37 locations across India and the Middle East. Rasovara by the same group, aims at giving us a gourmet, vegetarian thali experience fit for the royals. The restaurant right from the welcome, the service and the food is fit for the kings!

The restaurant is situated on the topmost floor at Palladium, Lower Parel. We were there for lunch, and I recommend that whenever you go visit make sure it's in the afternoon. The food is so rich and delicious that your bound to overeat and may require a siesta later. We stepped into the restaurant to be greeted by a 'Chandan teeka' on the forehead, which is considered to be auspicious. We were then led to our seats and seated in front of these beautiful handmade Kansa thalis. Kansa is a traditional, Gujarati, mix of metals and is believed to have health benefits. 

Ambiance: Simple and minimalist. The food is the star here and rightfully so. I loved the pretty lattice work on the walls.

Service: Exceptional service. Right from someone escorting you to the table, getting your hands washed in an extravagant dish, unfolding your napkin, they make sure you're well taken care of. Once the food is served there's no stopping. There's never a dull moment with the staff constantly refilling the dishes, scrambling to get what you've asked for, and labeling every dish you taste. They have a special sign language with their hands to communicate what the diner wants and to make sure it reaches soon. It always feels good to be fed by happy, smiling faces.

Food: Make sure you come on an absolutely empty stomach to do justice to the 40-odd dishes they serve you. We start from chaas and thandai as welcome drinks. The buttermilk was smooth and so refreshing that you're definitely asking for refills. 
Farsan or 'appetizers' as the Gujarati's call it is an irreplaceable part of the meal. We sampled Paneer tikkis, Capsicum chaat, Strawberry dhokla and something called Surti Plaza which tasted absolutely fab. Yes, strawberry and dhokla, an unusual combination but tasty nevertheless. 
Clockwise: All the Farsan, Capsicum Chaat, Surti Plaza

The main course was brought in next. An assortment of sabzis ranging from Gatte ki sabzi to a very delicious and homely, Cauliflower Guncha. No Rajastani food is complete without Daal-Baati-Churma topped with loads of ghee. Three varieties of dals and kadhi were also poured into our thali. I loved the meetha Gujarati dal. They then brought in an assortment of Phulkas, Bajra Roti, Bhakri and Gobi Paneer Paratha. 

Clockwise: Shahi Kaju Gatta, Assorted rotis, Dals, Daal-Baati
The rest of your thali is filled in with a number of pickles, chutneys, chunda, thecha, papad, bhareli mirch and salad. Phew!

The complete thali
For those who would have any stomach space left, there's also rice, pulao and khichdi. We skipped them to dive straight into the desserts. For sweets there was, Fruit Shrikhand, Boondi Gulab Jamun and Malpua with Rabdi. The Boondi Gulab Jamun was my favourite which is a deconstructed take on the regular Gulab Jamun. My favorite Meetha Paan is the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Clockwise: Malpua with Rabdi, Paan & Mukhwas, Fruit Shrikhand, Boondi Gulab Jamun
For Rs. 630/- per thali its an absolute steal. The service, richness and taste of the food makes it absolutely worth it. I would definitely visit again to taste the other dishes, since, they claim no dishes are repeated in a month! Go try Rasovara for a royal, gourmet thali experience.

My Ratings:
Ambiance: 3/5
Food: 4/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5

Address: Level 3, Palladium, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Phone: 022-40802118/20

7 March 2014

February 2014 Fab Bag Review

I've been subscribing to the Fab Bag (www.fabbag.com) since March, 2013. Back then it was called the Vellvette Box. It was a monthly, little black box that would contain 3-4 sample or full sizes of luxury beauty products. I started off receiving some wonderful brands and products which I would've otherwise not bought. Its a great way of trying new stuff. Recently however, I've been disappointed with some of the stuff they sent out. Nevertheless, I still carried on subscribing because it was absolute Value-For-Money. But after this month's Fab Bag fiasco I doubt I will renew my subscription. 

February Fab Bag was themed as 'Fab Bag Crew Favourites'. All the beauty secrets and products that the crew themselves use. The products arrived in a nice, red and black pouch. Here's all what I got!

My February Fab Bag Haul
1. Organic Surge Shine Boost Shampoo (Rs. 595/- for a full size of 250 ml.)
This is supposed to be an all natural, sulfate and paraben-free shampoo. Now I know sulfate free shampoos do not foam as much as regular shampoos, but this one gives out no foam! I felt like I hadn't shampooed at all. They gave out a huge 100 ml. sample though, so it should last me a while. It doesn't do any wonders to my hair however. 
Organic Surge Shine Boost Shampoo

2.  Tommy G Dual Lipstick in Fuchsia (Full Size Rs. 980/-)
This is a full sized product and apparently Greece's biggest cosmetic company. The color is bright fuchsia and something the heroine's of Ramsay horror films may wear. Its gaudy and bright pink. Not something I would consider wearing. The smell is cloyingly like candy. Doesn't even come off easily, no matter how much make up remover I scrubbed on my lips. The plain gloss is wearable over nude lips or as a top coat for a bright lipstick.

Tommy G Dual Lipstick- Fuchsia

 3. Cetaphil Cleansing & Moisturizing Lotion Kit
(Cleanser Full Size: Rs. 163/- for 125 ml.)
(Moisturizer Full Size: Rs. 260/- for 100 ml.) 
These are teeny-tiny 25 ml. bottles of Cetaphil! Everyone knows of Cetaphil. Everyone's used Cetaphil. It's a really good product for acne but hardly something you would expect to get in a 'luxury' beauty bag. And they're such small samples that they can easily be finished off in a couple of uses. 

Cetaphil Cleansing & Moisturizing Lotion Kit

4. V-Day Bonus: Cookie Man Fresh Baked Australian Cookies
This I was most excited about, true foodie that I am. Two heart shaped cookies for the occasion of Valentine's Day, such a lovely gesture from the team. Yummy Double Chocolate Chip, and Choco Chunk Cashew cookies in my bag. :)

Cookie Man Australian Cookies
5. Free Bonus: Vivel Cell Renew Fortify+ Repair Kit
The kit contains Vivel Cell Renew face moisturizer, body lotion and hand creme. Again I don't find this exciting because Vivel is not really a luxury or a high-end brand. This is something I can try out on my own and wouldn't need to subscribe to a beauty bag for. I don't think I'm using this one.

Vivel Cell Renew Fortify+ Nourish Kit
Nothing exciting at all in this months bag!

5 March 2014

It's Showtime: Noises Off

Tuesday night for me was fun-filled indeed. I was back at my all time favorite Prithvi theater to watch a show after ages. Prithvi Theatre is a haven for theater aficionados, situated right in the heart of Juhu, this tiny place has been around for decades producing and displaying some amazing theater. There was an entire bunch of us present that night for the opening show of the play, 'Noises Off'. We were all members of a group called 'It's Showtime'.

About It's Showtime: This group was founded by Salonee Sanghvi-Doshi, an avid theater and movie buff, with the intention that nobody should go see a play/movie alone. The group meets up once or sometimes twice a month with the intention of getting like minded people together to go watch a show. One can attend solo or bring a friend along. The Facebook group puts up the events and also gives the members a chance to vote on what they would like to see/attend. The group meets up for movies, musicals, plays, stand up....anything that fancies their interest. I've attended two such gatherings and I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed both the show, and meeting up with some fun people post the show. 

This time we all gathered to see the premier show of Noises Off, a very famous English play, which I had read up for while doing research for the blog. This play has been adapted, modified and modernized since the 1970's and has been around since then. It has even been adapted into a film of the same name. To quote the playwright Michael Frayn, 'A play is funnier from behind than in front, and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind.'

About Noises Off: Noises Off is a play within a play. Its about a theater group putting together a sex comedy called, 'Nothing On', and the chaos and confusion then goes on backstage and during the actual show. It all happens on a single set where lovers frolic, doors slam, clothes are tossed away, and more embarrassing situations ensue. The show was divided into three acts:
Act One: On stage during dress rehearsal
Act Two: Backstage during a matinee performance
Act Three: On stage during a delightfully ruined performance.

My Review: After long did I see a play that was so perfect when it came to comic timing. Such witty, slapstick comedy and exuberant performances from all the actors. Delightfully original one liners throughout the play. There is not a dull moment in the entire first act. You are hooked onto the escapades and chaos that goes on. Its especially interesting to get a glimpse into what goes on during a dress rehearsal and backstage of a play during Act One and Two respectively. My only grouse with the play was the duration. At two hours not counting interval, it becomes extremely long. Nevertheless, not a dull moment throughout. I would've thoroughly enjoyed this one, if only it had been shorter by 15 minutes or so.

It's Showtime members with the cast of Noises Off

There was a special treat in store for all the members who had some to watch the show. They were given a chance to meet and interact with the cast members after the performance. All in all a fun evening. Go see Noises Off if your in the mood for some light-hearted, over-the-top comedy.