30 November 2015

Decoding Bandra's 'Tea' Cafes

I've been a coffee person ever since I can remember. Until a self-inflicted weight loss spree I went on roughly three years ago where I drank copious amounts of green tea. (Eating a pizza and then drinking five cups of green tea, does not 'balance it out' FYI.) And then there was no looking back. I've begun to enjoy tea in all it's forms and all it's glory - may it be a cup of herbal tea or a strong Earl Grey or a kulhad of desi chai!

Tea Cafes have become the new coffee shops. Barring the few mass produced, international coffee shop chains I don't seem to hear of any new coffee joints launching recently. Tea houses are in vogue now, just like how fashion re-invents itself. 
And everyone's favorite suburb, hipster capital of Mumbai - Bandra - is sprouting tea cafes everywhere you look. I can proudly and safely say that I've visited them all, a few of them multiple times, and I am listing down my favorite three! Stick out your pinkie finger, take a sip, and read on.
Chaayos, Bandra Reclamation -

After their extremely successful stint in Delhi, Chaayos arrived to Mumbai a month ago, with their mustached mascot, serving up desi 'chai' in all forms imaginable. Their claim to fame is that they can customize your chai in 12,000 possible ways - giving you the option of choosing your chai patti (regular/kadak), milk (paani kum, full doodh, doodh kum etc.) and add ons such as tulsi, adrak, elaichi and even hari mirch!
Must Try their good ol' Kulhad chai served in a traditional kulhad - if only we had winters like they do in Delhi! Their Hari Mirch chai with a chilli after taste, that hits the back of your throat without being too pungent receives full marks for innovation and execution. Ooh, also try their Aam Papad chai - this non milk tea comes sweetened with aam papad syrup, which is quite popular I believe.
Skip their Elaichi Masala Chai Frappe that definitely needs more chai and less elaichi flavoring so that it doesn't taste like thandai. Also their Bun Maska was a burger bun complete with sesame seeds that left the Bawi in me outraged.
Go If you are a fan of Indian chai. Chaayos deserves a pat on the back for taking Indian masala milk tea, and elevating it's status with different flavour combinations. Do try their desi hot teas, and all day nashtas from their very well priced menu. 

20 November 2015

Why Do I Crave Parsi Food?

I was in South Bombay last Sunday, specifically in the Fort area. And I did what I do every time I am in that area. Eat Parsi food at a Parsi restaurant. So I trudged down the narrow bylanes, with the sun shining down my back, with a begrudging Bee in tow and landed up outside the steps of Jimmy Boy.

What I enjoy about the Jimmy Boy menu is their wedding feast or Lagan nu Bhonu priced at Rs. 750/- + tax. (They also do a vegetarian spread, but no comments on that.) I devoured my plump, well coated patra ni macchi with a Raspberry by the side. I gobbled down the piquant, sweet-spicy, salli marghi on a makeshift banana leaf 'paatra'. I ended my meal with some celebratory mutton pulao with masala dal, with barely enough stomach space to try their lagan nu custard. 

And throughout my meal I felt this little childish excitement surging within me. A mixture of satiety and elation - something that only food memories can evoke. A feeling of going back in time, and eating pulao dal in my granny's Dahanu home verandah. A memory of peeling away the banana leaf off the pomfret at a navjote, hoping the piece is bigger than your cousin's. 

19 November 2015

The Big Bong Theory!

My knowledge about Bengali food is highly limited to one Kolkata trip many years ago as a student, where I stuffed my face with kathi rolls for three meals a day. Where I cut a lackluster birthday pastry at Flury's that everyone strongly recommended. Where I had a tedious time de-boning an Ilish fish, but it turned out to be absolutely worth it in the end. So as you can see, my knowledge about Bengali food is highly limited.

So when Trident, BKC invited me over to try their new Bengali food menu at Maya - their lovely Indian restaurant - I couldn't say no to learning more about this cuisine. Firstly, because I work for a Bengali company now, and there could be no better way to bond with the boss than over food. And secondly, Chef Gaurav Sircar who was cooking for us last night is quite the maestro when it comes to showcasing the food of his state.

I decided not to do a conventional review of the food there, since I am a layperson when it comes to Bengali food and I really don't have the knowledge to critique the taste. And also I am tired of writing conventional reviews, just as I am sure you readers are tired of reading them. Here are three things I discovered during my pleasurable Bengali meal at Maya - 

11 November 2015

Lemon Pudding with Peanut Chikki Crumble - A Recipe to Honour Indian Farmers

My recent trip to Nashik was an eye opener. I got to see first hand what this season's dismal rainfall has done to crops. I saw arid, and dry land where I should have been seeing green. I found walking around in the farm so tedious, only to imagine the kind of hardships our farmers must have to face working under that harsh sun, day in and day out. But they do it, with a smile on their faces, waving to us as our car drove by, proud of being able to put food onto our plates every single day.

Freshly returned from my Nashik trip, I was approached to participate in the #SeedTheRise campaign by Mahindra and Mahindra. Call it destiny, or coincidence this campaign happened right around the time I wanted to do something for the farmers, and make a difference in any small way that I could.

What is the Seed The Rise campaign? - A fund raising initiative set up by Mahindra and Mahindra to improve the lives of farmers. The campaign is working at raising Rs. 2 crores from the public via donations - and an equal amount will be matched by Mahindra as well. All funds collected will go towards supporting 5 key NGO run projects that strategically aim at bettering the farmers' lives in varied ways including setting up drip irrigation, sustainable farming units and educating the girl child. 

As a part of the #SeedTheRiseChallenge, I was asked to come up with a dish made out of lemons. India is the world's largest producer of lemons, a fact that I was oblivious to until now. I personally feel lemons in desserts are underrated. I remember collecting my pocket money, and running to Candies once a week after school to bite into a Lemon Tart. That citrus burst from the lemon curd, contrasted with the bite of the tart base felt like heaven to my childhood self. I remember the fragrance of my aunt's lemon cake baking in the oven. I remember my very first bite of lemon meringue, and wondering if this is what nirvana feels like. So yes, lemons and I go way back.

1 November 2015

Will Wander For Food - A Khandeshi Food and Wine Sojourn

Do you plan your upcoming vacations around destinations that are known to serve the best food? Do you believe that the best way to understand the culture of a new place is via the regional food favorites? Do you strongly feel that the best souvenirs you can take back home are those of the edible kind? If yes, then Wandering Foodie may be the answer.

Two engineers - Rahul Patil and Vinod Sarma- gave up their boring desk jobs, to combine their love for regional Indian food and travel, resulting in the ingenious Wandering Foodie concept. Currently limited to two destinations in Maharashtra - Nashik and Alibaug - the concept emphasizes on learning more about a place, by travelling there, and tasting traditional local food. Food that is made using traditional methods, by home chefs, and with local produce - it doesn't get more authentic than this!