29 June 2014

Keep Calm and Eat Sushi

'I'm not making art. I'm making sushi' - Masaharu Morimoto

One of my favourite food quotes. And so apt to introduce this blogpost. Because this is not just about eating sushi but also making it. 

The food bloggers were recently invited to BusaGo at Lower Parel for a fun sushi making MasterClass where renowned chef Nikhil Chib would be teaching us. Here we could make our own sushi and eat it too! The best tasting sushi would then be put on the menu at BusaGo, Lower Parel for the entire month of July. We all reached the venue the allotted Saturday afternoon and sipped on sangria while we waited for the class to begin. They brought out the sushi making ingredients and the shutterbugs went crazy clicking pictures even before we knew what the ingredients were.

Click Click!

Sushi Making Ingredients

Special mention to Chef Chib's Rottweiler Wolfgang who roamed around the place, greeting everyone and supervising us as we made some sushi. Hands down the friendliest Rottweiler in the world.

Wolfgang Poses for Me
Chef then went through the entire process of making a sushi. Here is a quick step by step procedure.

1. Place the bamboo mat for rolling the sushi on the counter, and the seaweed paper on top of the mat. The sushi we were learning to make is called a maki and uses a seaweed called nori as the outer covering.
2. Wet your fingers and start spreading the sticky rice over the seaweed sheet such that it is all evened out.
3. On one end of the sheet add the fillings of your choice depending on what sushi you want to make. Chef told us to experiment with what types of sushi we can make since sushi is a versatile dish. 
4. Now the tricky part. Rolling the sushi with the help of the bamboo mat till you get a sushi roll.
5. Cut the sushi roll from the center into symmetrical, equal pieces (which is again super difficult to do).

From Clockwise: Chef Demonstrates the Sushi Making Procedure
We were randomly divided into teams of 3-4 and asked to go back and experiment making our own sushi. Our team named 'Japanese Dolls' comprised of Aditi (@stuffednstarved), Saloni (@masalachic) and me. We made two types of sushi, a vegetarian 'Green Geisha', and a non-vegetarian 'Hot Dog Sushi'. 

 Chef then judged the sushi of every team based on taste, presentation and technique. Our 'Green Geisha' was declared the best vegetarian sushi. Woot Woot!

Ingredients for Green Geisha: Sticky Rice, Veg Tempura, Som Tam, Jalapenos,
Asparagus, Wasabi and a secret ingredient called Love.

Saathi Haath Badhaana

Assembling the Sushi

Winning Team (From left to right) @stuffednstarved, me, and @masalachic

(From top to bottom): The Hot Dog Sushi, and Green Geisha

We finished with the hard work of cooking and moved onto the fun job of eating. Momos were being passed around, and I enjoyed the chicken ones. Vegetarian, not so much.

Tibetan Vegetarian Momos

The BusaGo Kaukswe is a coconut curry had with noodles and topped with ingredients of your choice. This is one of my favorite places in the city to get Kaukswe on a budget. The one here is not too spicy so remember to customize it as per your preference with chilli flakes. 

Kaukswe

Customize your Kaukswe

I also really like how the place is done up. Bright, cheery interiors. Colorful chairs and tables. And a blackboard displaying the menu.

Group Picture with Nikhil Chib
All in all such a fun event, learning a new skill. Remember to try our Vegetarian sushi all of July at BusaGo, Lower Parel. Or else come over and be my guinea pig while I experiment with a few sushi ideas I have of my own. Chocolate sushi anyone?

26 June 2014

The Crawl of the Phoenix

(Harry Potter inspired title for this post. Yay!)
Talk about malls and shopping in Mumbai and one name comes to mind: Phoenix! The one at Lower Parel and the younger sibling who resides at Kurla are both landmark shopping and most importantly food destinations. 

With our emphasis to explore the food options that Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla has to offer the food bloggers set out on a Food Crawl. We were looking forward to this fun evening that the guys at Phoenix Marketcity in collaboration with Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI) had organized for us. Well I've done food crawls and bar hops before, but nothing inside a mall. So this was going to be different indeed. 

Destination I: The Irish House for drinks, cocktails, and appetizers.
I love The Irish House having been to the other outlet at Lower Parel before. It's such a fun place to chill with friends and grab a drink. We were all gathered around a large table in front of the screen playing the FIFA world cup. (Major plus points to them for being so football friendly and screening the match every evening). A special drinks menu was created just for us. Aaaah...the good life!


Guaranteed Talli Formula: The Irish House Drinks Menu made for us.

(Left to Right) Jalapeno Margarita, Irish Hangover, Cosmopolitan, Irish Trash Can

I tasted four drinks from the menu. (Yes, four drinks!) The Cosmopolitan was like any other Cosmo you've had before. Order it if you're a fan of girly drinks and/or Sex And The City. The Irish Trash Can was a combination of four spirits with a dash of peach flavor served in a beer mug with Redbull. Looking to get guaranteed drunk in a single drink? Then please order the Irish Hangover. It has Jameson, spiced rum, black rum, white rum, vodka, gin, tequila, bourbon whiskey, absinthe, triple sec and three types of whiskies with pineapple, blue curacao and lime. Phew! Is there any alcohol that isn't in there? Guaranteed hangover Ireland style with this!

My favorite drink of the night, and a favorite with a lot of the others was the Jalapeno Margarita. A classic Margarita with a spicy jalapeno twist. We got the opportunity to get behind the bar and try our skills at bartending. I chose to learn how to make the Jalapeno Margarita and called my drink the 'Jangli Billi'. Meow!


The Many Moods of Making a 'Jangli Billi'
We dove headfirst into the food after our stint behind the bar. I loved the Chicken Popcorn which makes a fun bar snack and my all time favorite 'The Irish House Nachos'. Heaps of refried beans, guacamole, cheese and sour-cream make these babies so much fun to eat!

Chicken Popcorn

The Irish House Nachos
Tweet Before You Eat
Pic Courtesy: @AyeBee_Me
After all the bartending and hogging it was time to move onto our next stop of the food crawl, but not before we did some shots!


Shots Anyone?

Fun, Foodie Family

Pic of the Night. Photobombimg @mohitsurfs
Destination II: Rainforest for some more appetizers and mains. 
This was my first visit to Rainforest, and I enjoyed the jungle vibe they had going on. An artificial gorilla greets you at the entrance and a there is a waterfall with a bridge just as you get past the door. We sat on wooden log like tables with creepers and vines all around us. Jungle B(h)ook time.

I enjoyed the Prawn Cocktail which was served in a Martini glass with some cocktail dipping sauce. 
Prawn Cocktail

The Kurkure Cheese Kababs were as the name suggests fried balls of cheese with veggies. 
Kurkure Cheese Kabab
 We were made to play a fun game where we tasted this yummy Rainforest Pasta the chef especially created for our table and were made to guess the ingredients. The person who ended up guessing the most correct ingredients as we took turns, was declared the winner. And yes, white sauce isn't an ingredient.

I Pose with some Paneer Achari Tikka

Destination III: Dunkin' Donuts for dessert
Mass hysteria gripped the city when this famous international donut chain came to Mumbai. Thank God we didn't have to stand in hour long queues to get our fill of donut and coffee.True foodies like us could've been eating the entire night, but we always make space for dessert and coffee.


Intense Discussion: Kya Order Kare?

Donut Display

Donut + Stirr'accino = Happy Me!

Say Cheese. No, Say Donuts!
Three Pitstops, Three courses, Three of Mumbai's famous food destinations, this was a guaranteed fun night at Phoenix Marketcity!


Group Picture
P.S. Do you know Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla is a 10 minute rickshaw ride from the Jagruti Nagar station on the Mumbai Metro. Easier access for me from work now. Yippee!

25 June 2014

Maroosh is now MM! Maroosh

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Maroosh. Famous for their wraps, rolls and shawarmas, in addition to their Mughlai fare, Maroosh is a popular post-partying-drinking haunt. Ideal for grabbing a roll on the move, they have established themselves as a popular Lebanese fast food chain across the city. In fact the owner of Maroosh, Ketan Kadam, decided to launch 

Maroosh because people were looking for a place to grab a quick bite after a night of partying at his famous night club.
The popularity of Maroosh over the years has recently led to them revamping the brand as MM! Maroosh. Mumbai Food Lovers were invited to the recent opening of their reinvented Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) at Bandra Reclamation.  In addition they launch a take away at Shivaji Park, Dadar and kiosks at PVR Cinemas across the city, planning to have 30 revamped MM! Maroosh outlets by the end of this year.

The menu includes Lebanese food like shawarmas, falafel, hummus with pita bread, and Lebanese salads. Indian fare such as wraps, starters and a few mains are on the menu too. The restaurant is brightly done up in cheery yellow and white. I loved the fun vibe to the entire place. Even the food is served in kitschy wrapping paper, interesting take away containers and trays. They even have yellow Vespas to home deliver your orders. I loved the new feel to the place. This new look and feel is intended keeping in mind their idea for Pan-Asian expansion.

The MM! Maroosh Prototype Restaurant
They’ve launched three new dishes to the menu, out of which, the Baked Falafel Wrap was my favourite dish of the night. Succulent falafel pieces, crunchy vegetables, and hummus that were enveloped in a wrap. Go try this new addition to the menu!

Baked Falafel Wrap
However, the Falafel Salad we tasted was not as good. It contained falafel, veggies, and hummus. I found the falafel a bit crumbly, and not as good as the ones I tasted in the wrap. The Paneer Shawarma was average. I wish the paneer pieces were a bit spicier. Overall the shawarma was slightly bland.

The Paneer Tikka Roll however compensated for this. Succulent, spicy paneer tikka pieces wrapped in a roomali roti and this was served with lovely, mint chutney on the side. I also loved the hummus platter with pita bread. Three hummus types: Garlic, Sundried Tomato, and Jalapeno were served in containers, which makes it perfect to eat on the go. All three went perfectly with the toasted Pita bread. The Sundried Tomato Hummus was exceptionally good, and we scooped off the entire dish.

The other new dish of the night was the Chicken Tikka Shawarma. I’m replacing my regular shawarma with this one. Perfect combination of two popular favourites: Chicken Tikka and Shawarma. The chicken in this was the perfect spicy, tikka flavour. 

Chicken Tikka Shawarma
The Chicken Hummus Salad was all that is contained in a shawarma, without the outer pita wrap. So if you want to do the healthier version of a shawarma, this is for you. Not that this is too healthy, but still. (On a random thought I wonder if we get whole wheat shawarmas anywhere. Anyone knows?)

Another favourite dish of mine that night was the Chicken Bhuna roll. The chicken stuffing was similar to chicken makhanwala. So this roll was basically a portable Butter Chicken- Roomali Roti. Absolutely yummy, despite the excess oil. 

Overall MM!Maroosh retains the qualities it was known for: easy, take-away, delicious, filling, Lebanese food. All of this in a revamped avatar!  Sometimes, the sequel can be better than the original, as proved in this case. Maroosh or MM!Maroosh , we know where to get our fill of shawarmas and rolls late at night!

Bandra: (Sit-Down)
Address:
mm! maroosh (Reclamation) - Shop No. 14, Ground Floor, Building No. c3 (Kosamba), ONGC Residential Complex, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (W) - 50
Restaurant Contact Details: 9819844933

Dadar: (Take-Away)
Address:
mm! maroosh (Shivaji Park) - Plot No. 120, Shop No. 7, Shakuntal Building, Keluskar Road, Shivaji Park, Dadar (W), Mumbai - 28

PS: Sincere apologies for lack of photos in this post. Lost phone, no backup, long story! Promise to make it up with excessive photographs in the next. Cheers!

19 June 2014

Poppaddum Anyone?

I love Mumbai city for the sheer number of people from different caste, creed, and religion who inhabitate it, each rendering a different flavor to the culture of the city. This is reflected in the different food and cuisines that are available in abundance. South Indian food goes far beyond idlis and dosas, and luckily we have a few, landmark restaurants to prove that. 

Mahim and Fort areas are home to a number of hidden gems, that have been serving up traditional Malayali food since years. Especially since there are so many people from the state of Kerala that have made Mumbai their home. But when you're looking for traditional, home cooked Malayali food, your neighbors or friends house is your best bet. And even if those options are not available then a concept like 'Poppaddum' comes to the rescue.

What is Poppaddum? A concept initiated by Sneha Nair; whose profession is economic research and passion is cooking. She put her flair for cooking traditional, Malayali, home food to good use through Poppaddum. It is basically a pop-up restaurant that she hosts every Sunday at her place, and serves some delicious food that she whips up. It is a fun concept where not only do you get to try out some traditional Kerala cuisine but also get to meet some interesting, like-minded foodies.

A friend of mine came across her Sunday menu on the Small Fry Facebook page and shared it with me. We read the menu, and we were hooked. Mainly because it was supposed to be a fishetarian meal. Three of us mailed her, signed up, and waited expectedly for Sunday afternoon to arrive.


Our Sunday Menu

Sunday afternoon arrives and we trail to Bandra East, to Sneha's kitchen. We sit like a bunch of hungry school children on mats on the floor, drooling at the smells that waft through the kitchen. Finally everyone arrives! The banana leaves are placed in front of us and the fun begins.

The Meen Varthathu or fish fry in shallots masala, was crispy and deep fried to the point of no return. I was anxious when Sneha told me she was serving Bangda fish (or mackerel for the anglicised). Now Bangda is my least favorite only because of the number of bones it has. It takes far too much effort to eat through this fish. But the Bangda we were served were tiny, and fried so well that the bones were edible. We crunched our way through a number of these babies.
Meen Varthathu
The Mangzha Perka or the raw mango chutney with coconut and yogurt was hands down the winner that afternoon. We've all eaten coconut chutney, but this one was so beautifully flavored with raw mango. The 'kairi' and yogurt gave the chutney such a spicy tangy taste. I had spoonfuls of this chutney raw, and later mixed it with my rice and gobbled it down.


Mangzha Perka
The Meen Curry which is a Kerala fish curry and rice was up next. Lovely flavor of tamarind all through the curry here. Sneha's fish curry-rice is added to my list of comfort foods, it was so homely and delicious. 


Meen Curry-Rice
How could a meal at Poppaddum be complete without poppaddum? And some delicious raw mango pickle on the side.


Raw Mango Pickle

Poppaddum

After what seemed like gazillion helpings of rice and those beautiful, tiny bangdas I was done. And ready to pass out into a food coma. We took a break from all the eating to chit-chat and get to know each other a tad bit better. Then we got back to the serious work of eating....this time dessert!

My Malayali friends from college would bring payasam for us on every birthday. I've only eaten the one made of milk and vermicelli, and always thought that was the only variant. We were going to try the Cherupayar Payasam which is lentils in jaggery syrup. I'm not too much of a jaggery fan so I did not enjoy this. I found it a tad bit heavy. But I guess that was because of the amount of food we had already stuffed in. Wish I could've had some of the milk payasam. 


Cherupayar Payasam
Final Verdict: Go for the absolutely delicious, homely Kerala food. And the fun company that comes free along with it. 700 bucks for the meal may be slightly on the pricier side considering you could get a similar thali at one of the Fort restaurants for less than half the price. But are you getting to hang out with and meet some interesting people along with ghar ka khana?


Group Shot. All smiles :)

Contact:
The Poppaddum Facebook page here has all the important details you may need regarding the further Sunday lunches.

8 June 2014

Juicing It Out....Literally!

God knows I needed a detox. God knows I needed to cleanse. All this eating out, writing blog posts, uploading food pictures on Instagram, and tweeting food reviews can take a toll. Weight gain, heaviness, and breakouts on my skin began to happen. So much so, that my face began to resemble a constellation on a night sky. Detox was the need of the hour. And when I read about Raw Pressery's juice cleanse program, I knew I had to do this!

About Raw Pressery: The company which launched last year basically offers juice packages to suit ones daily needs. They make India's first raw pressed juices. Raw pressing is basically hydraulic technology that involves naturally extracting the juice, without involving any air or water to even come in contact with the juice. This preserves the nutrients and ensures the juices are as fresh as possible. Read more on www.rawpressery.com

About the Raw Cleanse: Apart from offering monthly juice packages, where juices are recommended to you as per your needs, and then delivered home, they also offer juice cleanse packages. It basically is a day where you detox, and survive on juice the entire day. The juices fulfill your nutritional needs, so you're not really starving or deprived. They recommend eating light a few days prior to prepare your system. On the cleanse day, they advise drinking loads of water and fluids to flush the system. Read more about the Raw Cleanse here

I ordered the Cleanse package and waited excitedly for my juices to arrive that morning. All six of the bottles were delivered bright and early at 7.30 am. The juices are to be had between 9 am and 9.30 pm at 2.5 hour intervals. Each bottle has a different juice, different name and different purpose. They were a decent size of about 410 ml. Read on to understand more!


All Six Bottles Lined Up Neatly in a Row!

9.00 am: Time for my first bottle. The 'Trim' contains kale, spinach, doodhi, amla, celery, green apple, ginger and lemon. I was dreading this one the most. Lets face it, most of those ingredient sound unappetizing. The Trim is supposed to help you manage your weight and alkalize your system. The juice tasted suprisingly good for what all was in there. The ginger and lemon did the trick here, and gave it a bearable flavour. I downed this one and was off to work with my remaining bottles.


Trim
11.30 am: Regular day at work. Wasn't feeling too hungry but it was time for the next bottle. The 'Run' contained pineapple, pear and chia seeds. This was the yummiest of all the juices I had. The pineapple-pear combination totally works. This juice is an energy booster and increases overall vitamin efficiency in the body. I'm not sure about all of that, but it definitely was yum.

2.00 pm: Busy day at work. All the running around was getting me hungry. I kept looking at the watch, waiting for it to turn 2, so that I could drink my next bottle. All the excess fluids in my body were making me pee like a leaky faucet, so purpose of detox was being achieved. The 'Flush' had apple, beet, ginger, carrot and lemon. I absolutely detest beets, so I was dreading this. Again not as bad as I expected, thanks to the lemon and ginger that provided flavour. This juice aims at detoxing the liver, purifying the blood, and cleansing the system. 

4.30 pm: Time for 'Shield'. I was hungry again. All the frequent treks to the loo were taking up my energy. This one was the least favourite of the lot. Inspite of being hungry I could not finish this. It has bellpepper, carrot, tomato, celery, ginger and lemon. I could only taste bellpepper and carrot here. Heat this up, and it would've made a better soup. These ingredients contain anti-oxidants and claim to build immunity. 


Shield
7.00 pm: I was hungry again, and was travelling. So gulped this juice down in the rickshaw. The 'Glow' contains cucumber, coconut water, pineapple, lemon grass, aloe vera and lemon. Unfortunately when I drank this it wasn't chilled, or it would've tasted much better. Decent cucumber-lemon-nariyal pani taste here. All these ingredients are supposed to help clear and flush the skin out. Also they're a great source of electrolytes.

7.30 pm: Disaster strikes. I receive some traumatic personal news. In the midst of that I forget my 7 month old, expensive cell phone in the backseat of the rickshaw. Phone rings for 10 minutes, before someone disconnects it. Spirit of Mumbai where were you when I needed you the most?

10.00 pm: I return home from a frantic dash from police station to police station. My hunger is dampened in anycase here. I gulp down the 'Build' quickly. The one bottle that I was actually excited about. It contained almond, honey, cinnamon and pure water. This is a healthy dessert drink, and supposed to help build up muscle. Don't ask me how it tastes. I was too stressed to remember!

My Opinion: Well I did not see any miracles happening in my body in a day of the cleanse. But I surely felt lighter, and fresher. Our bodies need a break from time to time. We treat it as a dustbin sometimes, randomly dumping things into it. The cleanse made me careful of what I put into my mouth. The next day I woke up suprisingly not hungry. This was the first time I tried something like this and would I do it again? Sure! Maybe the two or three day cleanse next time. I easily sailed through this one. 
The juices were all fresh, and tasted good. They came in convenient packaging and were delivered on time. 
The damages are Rs. 1500/- for a day of the cleanse. Most of us would find that expensive. Well I did too! But if we can spend that much on a single evening of drinking, why not on this? Something that may help our bodies in the long run. Something to ponder about.

4 June 2014

A Taste of Vietnam in Mumbai

This blog is about Vietnamese food at a place called Pondicherry Cafe, in Bandra. Geographical disorientation, much? Vietnam has always been on my bucket list of places I want to visit. So when the Sofitel Hotel in Bandra Kurla Complex, hosted a Vietnamese food festival, and invited me to come sample some of the fare, I was elated. I could now cross off Vietnamese food from my bucket list. Vietnam nahi, khana toh sahi. Vietnamese food is known for using fresh, raw produce with tons of local seafood. The food is simple in preparation and taste. 

The Vietnamese Food Festival was held at Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel Hotel, BKC till the 3rd of June. The menu was specially curated and prepared by Chef Dao Van Son, Executive Sous Chef at Hotel Sofitel Saigon Plaza, Ho Chi Minh. We were lucky to not only get to taste his food, but also meet him and talk to him about Vietnamese food and his passion for cooking. 

Pondicherry Cafe is done up with the most beautiful drapes, gigantic armchairs, and warm colors. In the middle of the regular buffet spread, we got a sneak peak at a traditional, Vietnamese food stall. 


Loved the Display!

We got down to the business of eating with a Virgin Lychee Martini. This was a cool, refreshing drink and the taste of lychees really stood out. I would've loved for it to be slightly less sweeter, but no major complaints here. 


Non-Alcoholic Lychee Martini

The salads looked fresh and packed with colour. All of them had a basic raw fruit- protein combination, which when I asked Chef Dao Van Son, he said was the basic premise of the cuisine. My favourite was the Mango Salad with Chicken. Here semi-raw, mango juliennes, were paired with chicken and birds eye chilli. The mango was a perfect contrast to the blandness of the chicken. 


Mango Salad with Chicken
The Green Papaya with Squid salad was on the similar lines. Another fresh and light dish. On similar lines as the Thai Papaya Salad.

Green Papaya Salad with Squid

The other salads were the Glass Noodles Salad with Herbs and the Fruit Salad with Prawns, which I did not taste.

Glass Noodles Salad with Herbs

Fruit Salad with Prawns
Now the one thing I was looking forward to tasting was the traditional Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. Chef told us that this is a staple food, back in Vietnam, and is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was a live counter for the soup where they prepared the steaming soup for us, and had it delivered to our table. 

Chicken Noodle Soup anyone?

The broth was steaming and filled with chicken flavours. It went well with the noodles and boiled chicken. I found this a bit bland for my palate, however. We added a squeeze of lime and it definitely made a difference. One of the stronger dishes of the night. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

We were pretty ravenous by then, so we attacked the food. Started off with a Seafood Pumpkin Soup. This was too bland, and I'm not a pumkin fan at all. The only interesting part was the little pieces of fish, shrimp and squid that were settled at the bottom, which were fun to pick and chew.

Seafood Pumpkin Soup

The Grilled Pork Meat with Spices, were like Vietnamese pork kababs. 

Grilled Pork Meat with Spices

 I was expecting a Basa dish, and they did not disappoint. The Basa fish which is a part of every restaurant menu, originated in the shallow waters of Vietnam. The Braised Fish Cake in Tomato Sauce was our favorite for the night, with a sweet-spicy tomato sauce over the fish. 


Braised Fish Cake in Tomato Sauce

The Grilled Chicken with Honey Spices was okay, compared to the fish dish we tasted just prior.


Grilled Chicken with Honey Spices


 I skipped the Sauteed Broccoli with Mushroom, because not even my mother can get me to eat broccoli voluntarily. 

Sauteed Broccoli with Mushroom

 Sauteed Babycorn with Garlic was the other vegetarian option. We paired all of this with Noodles Sauteed with Vegetables, and Fried Rice Vegetables. 

Sauteed Babycorn with Garlic
Noodles Sauteed with Vegetables
Fried Rice Vegetables
We were done with our meal, and Chef very graciously sent over a dish he specially prepared for us, which wasn't on the menu: The Batter Fried Prawns on a Sugarcane Stick. 

Batter Fried Prawns on a Sugarcane Stick

The desserts we tried were the Orange, Coffee and Lychee jelly. Again simple, basic, fuss-free desserts which don't weigh you down. 

Assorted Desserts
The conclusion I came to about Vietnamese food that it is easy on the spices, and definitely simpler. It may take some time for the Indian palate to get used to but surely makes for a light, wholesome meal. All in all, experiencing new cuisine is always invigorating, and this was no exception.