27 May 2016

A Love Letter to Seafood

Dear Creatures of The Deep Sea,
                                                    My love affair with you started as a chubby three year old when I had my first taste of batter fried Bombil from my mother's plate. It was love at first bite. My obsession with you'll only grew stronger with age, and taste. I remember looking forward to Sunday morning fish shopping sessions with mom - my eyes glistening when I'd see you'll naked in the fisher woman's basket, my nose sniffing the aroma you'll would let out, my fingers itching to hold your slimy scaly bodies.

They say you never forget your first love. Mine was my grandmother's Kolmi no Paatiyo - a spicy, tomato based prawn dish served as an accompaniment to basic dal rice. And served with a lot of love. I fell in love within my religion first, indulging in the fishy fare that Parsi cuisine offers. From fish coated in chutney and steamed in banana leaves aka Patra ni macchi, to Kolmi na kebabs or deep fried kebabs made with tiny prawns, to Tareli Boi ni macchi or masala laden, fried mullet fish - Parsi cuisine is a haven for fish lovers. And that's where my love affair for you started, dear creatures of the deep sea.

(Clockwise): Tareli Boi, Patra ni macchi, Kolmi no paatiyo

26 May 2016

Star Anise Patisserie - Keep Calm and Eat Dessert

This is what Hansel and Gretel felt like, I thought. All around me gleaming, pristine counters of the choicest desserts, prettiest cakes, and exquisite macarons stare back at me, inviting me into their world. I was at Star Anise patisserie in Bandra, one weekday afternoon, making a lunch out of sugary desserts. Calories be damned!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
If Star Anise Patisserie is your chocolate factory, and you are Charlie, then Chef Anees Khan has got to be a real life Willy Wonka. With a lot of culinary experience under his belt, Chef decided to go down the dessert route to give us Star Anise - a classic French patisserie with exquisite desserts. (No, Star Anise is not named after him, but is a tribute to the humble spice that he loves cooking with.)

6 May 2016

All Aboard the Oriental Express - Pan Asian, ITC Maratha

In one corner, behind a gleaming glass counter I can see an artist in a chef's hat rolling out sushi with precision and intense concentration that the art deserves. Right behind me, I can hear the sizzle and boom from the Teppanyaki counter - another Chef whipping up a dish with the theatrical flair that this Japanese form of cooking demands. The primary, open kitchen has an army of diligent chefs, painstakingly stir frying veggies, boiling noodles, or seasoning meat - all under the watchful eye of Commander and Head Chef Liang. There was so much to take in, so much to gaze around at, and so many cuisines to explore at the Pan Asian, at ITC Maratha. 

The ITC Maratha, has carved a niche in the Indian cuisine department, famous for the ITC kaali dal at the highly acclaimed Peshawri and Dum Pukht. Among the seven dining establishments that this sprawling five star property boasts of, the Pan Asian remains highly underrated and deserves a spot in the sun. The restaurant is 'Pan Asian' in the truest sense, with cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia on offer.

"The food here is authentic, and true to their Oriental roots," claims Chef Liang while we wait patiently for the tasting menu to arrive, sipping on the signature Pan Asian Spritzer - a refreshing melon and sparkling wine concoction. "Flexibility is key while cooking Asian food in India, and one needs to adapt to each individual diner's palate and food preference. Indians love their spices and sauces, while for an expat from China we need to stay true to the original", Chef elaborates and I couldn't insist more. 

Pan Asian Spritzer by the window

2 May 2016

My Take Home Message from the Assamese Rongali Bihu Meal with Gitika Saikia

Food has the wonderful power to make you travel to far off places, while being deeply seated at home. I had been meaning to taste Gitika Saikia's home-style cooking for the longest time now, and take a food-cation with her to tribal Assam. It is thanks to home chefs like Gitika, enterpreneurs like Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal and APB Cook Studio's Culinary Legacy series that I was introduced to a cuisine unlike anything else I've ever tasted.
Rongali Bihu or Assamese New Year, celebrates the time of harvest and is incomplete without food. The Rongali Bihu meal at the APB Cook Studio was a delightful afternoon spent with like minded foodies where I learnt more about this 'exotic' cuisine from Gitika, sampled tribal Assamese fare, and even shook a leg or two to the Bihu dance.