11 November 2017

Mama Kane's Swatcha Upahar Griha, Dadar - Happy Homely Food

We discovered Mama Kane's Swatchha Upahar Griha while walking around Dadar station aimlessly and famished one Sunday afternoon. This tiny eatery stood out like an oasis in a desert, and called out to the two starving ladies burdened with shopping bags in their hands. The constant sea of people flowing in and out of the restaurant was a positive indicator that we'd end up getting a decent meal here, compared to the neighboring Udipi restaurants. We walked out of Mama Kane, tummies full and hearts content. Here are three reasons why I'd happily return to dine here, the next time I'm in the area - 

1 November 2017

The Best of Magical Mahabalipuram

It is hard to imagine that just a 90 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Chennai, lies an ancient city filled to the brim with history and culture. Well that's the magic of Mahabalipuram. I felt like I had entered a time machine and travelled back in time, to the 7th century to be precise. Mahabalipuram, in addition to the ancient temples and tradition, has now slowly gained importance as a leisure destination owing to the spectacular beaches and luxurious resorts it houses. 

Considering Mahabalipuram for your next getaway? Then read on for must visits while you're there. 

1. Shore Temple

At first ,the towering stone temple intimidates you with it's grandeur, but as you get closer she gets warm and inviting, embracing you into her bosom. This temple dates back to the 8th century, built by the rulers of the Pallava dynasty in a traditional Oriental pagoda style. The Shore Temple complex was also known as 'Seven Pagodas' but currently only one remains standing on land, the other six are submerged. If the seas permit, it is possible to take a catamaran out into the ocean and try and spot the submerged tips of the other temples. Once a busy port, now a world famous UNESCO heritage site, the Shore Temple now stands as a mark of a forgotten dynasty.

13 October 2017

There's a Holiday for Everyone at Chariot Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram

'Tans and tides will fade. But memories will last forever.'

Why do you travel? And what sort of a traveller are you? Do you love setting off on romantic escapades with your better half, in an attempt to discover each other in addition to the destination you're visiting? Or are you an adrenaline junkie and enjoy participating in  thrilling, adventurous activities on your vacation? Or you're a luxury traveller - a vacation for you implies swanky rooms, best of food and wine, and relaxing spa sessions? Or like me, you're a foodie and believe the best way to explore a new destination is via it's culinary route? Whatever be your rationale to travel, a good hotel or resort should be able to cater to every sort of traveller and be able to fulfill your every desire while on vacation.

This was my first visit to Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram  an ancient city of yore in South India that dates back to the 7th century. And just like all ancient cities, Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove of culture, history and art that attracts tourists all year round. But what makes Mahabalipuram special is the fact that it is a coastal town, situated between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. And the Chariot Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram is the perfect holiday spot if you're looking at enjoying the cultural aspects as well as the pristine beach that Mahabalipuram has to offer. 

Unlike other 'beach' resorts, Chariot is situated right on the beach. The far off horizon and their Olympic sized swimming pool is what your eyes are drawn to first thing as you enter the reception lobby. The resort is situated across 42 acres of land which means a buggy is your best friend to transport you to your far off cottage. Or rely on good ol' Bus No. 11 (our nickname for legs). As I settled down into my spacious cottage and spent three days here exploring the property and experiencing what the resort has to offer, I realized that there's something here for everybody.

29 September 2017

My August and September Food Favourites

The past few months have been flying by, and before we know it 2018 would have dawned upon us. Inspite of a crazy work schedule and an even crazier wedding planning schedule (Ohh yes, I'm getting married!) lots of food was consumed. Bridal diets be damned! This included attending new restaurant launches, ordering in from delivery joints on the days we were flooded in, and a mild attempt at making healthier choices while eating out. Read on to know which restaurants and dishes made the cut - 

1. Your favourite Andheri diner now in Bandra - Jamjar Diner, Bandra
The new Jam Jar outlet on Hill Road surpasses its predecessor in the prettiness quotient with it's detailed ambiance. I spent the first ten minutes walking around aimlessly in the restaurant appreciating the decor and admiring the little knick knacks that are placed around. Plenty of colour, a sun roof that streams in tons of light makes this the perfect brunch place. And let's not forget the trademark Jam Jar Jukebox! 
Their menu is not only exhaustive with plenty of diner food options, but also such a visual treat to go through. Colourful and filled with illustrations, you feel you're going through a comic book.
Among their breakfast menu we tried their Eggs Benedict that came seated on a base of BBQ pulled pork atop a brioche. Their Brioche French Toasts are really exceptional as well. For the mains I'd recommend you try their Slow Braised Pork Pappardelle  especially if you're a porkaholic. Everything we tried was top notch, including the ambiance and music. Can't wait to return! 
Jam Jar Diner, 133, 1st Floor, Gazebo House, Sayed Wadi, Hill Road, Bandra West.

14 September 2017

Brunch Diaries - NRI X Lima

I had reviewed Michelin starred chef Atul Kocchar's restaurants, NRI and Lima back in early 2016 when both were freshers on the Mumbai restaurant scene. Since then they've tried to constantly reinvent themselves by introducing high tea menus, updating and innovating the existing menu and now with an exhaustive Sunday brunch that features the best from both the restaurants, which are as different as chalk and cheese. While the former serves up global Indian fare, the other emphasizes on cocktails and small plates from the South American region. Win win, I'd say!

Anyone who knows me remotely well, knows that I adore Sunday brunches. (I'd marry Sunday brunch if I could.) This extreme affection is the inspiration behind the Brunch Diaries series on the blog. Having become a Sunday Brunch maestro by now, I can assuredly say the NRI X Lima Sunday brunch has all the ingredients a good brunch should have, albeit being a bit unconventional.

18 August 2017

Two Homegrown Himalayan Brands That You Must Check Out

In this age of blatant consumerism, I was recently introduced to two home grown, 100% desi brands that epitomize the concept of 'Make In India'. Read on to know more about Himalaya2Home and Aromazeia, and my recommendations from both these webstores -


I was introduced to the Himalaya2Home brand by Mr. Alok Bhatt, who shared detailed insights into Garhwali and Kumaoni food practices with me post my return from Mussoorie. I was looking for a platform for my readers (and myself) , where they could order grains and pulses that I devoured during my trip and vouched for - and Himalaya2Home fulfilled all our requirements. Here you'll find cereals, pulses, spices, herbs, honey, oil and personal care products all originating from the mountains.
The brand attempts at preserving Himalayan diversity through it's 'Eat Right - Live Well - Be Well' motto; providing natural, organic, and home grown produce by acting as a liason between the farmer and the consumer. I was pleasantly surprised to come across difficult to source ingredients on this webstore, each categorized according to the Himalayan valley from which it was obtained - Bhagirathi, Yamuna, Henval, Johar. What I loved about my shopping experience from the Himalaya2Home store, was reading the stories of each of their partner farmers. 
Check out www.himalaya2home.com for more details.

7 August 2017

Brunch Diaries - Wedding Bells at JW Sahar

The wedding industry has reached it's all time high, with each passing wedding season getting more elaborate and opulent than the previous. Which is why the Marriott group of hotels are showcasing their properties, their culinary expertise and wedding services on offer under the brand name #ShaadiByMarriott. And the folks at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar are taking this initiative a scale higher by hosting wedding themed Sunday brunches at their all day dining restaurant JW Cafe. This Sunday brunch provides a perfect sneak peak into the varied kinds of cuisines, different bar offerings and the exquisite decor that the team can put together if you decide to host a wedding at the JW Sahar. And even if you're not getting married, their Sunday brunches are the perfect place to unwind and spend a lazy afternoon chomping down on the best of food and drink. Don't forget to wear loose comfortable clothing, you're going to need it.

22 July 2017

A Luxurious 12 Hours in Goa

There's a Goan vacation for everybody! India's favourite tourist destination offers a plethora of options for every kind of traveler. Adventure junkie to the nature lover to the honeymooning couple to the food explorer - Goa has something for everyone. Especially if you're a luxury traveler, and you love your five star hotel beds, relaxing spa treatments, gourmet fine dine, and the best of service. Goa will spoil you with luxury stay options as well. And who better than the Marriott group of hotels - the first name when it comes to grand hotel stays, to help me experience an opulent Goan getaway.

Location: W Goa, Vagator

We drive down Goa's narrow picturesque bylanes, passing by shuttered shacks and the occassional North Indian tourist on a scooter to arrive at Vagator in North Goa. The rains convert Goa into a different destination altogether - flooded paddy fields on either sides of the road, coconut trees swaying dangerously, and shades of green you didn't know existed. #50ShadesOfGreen. After a failed attempt at climbing up to Chapora 'Dil Chahta Hai' fort in a downpour and a subsequent skidded knee, we made our way to W Goa. 

21 July 2017

Three Reasons to Dine at The Bandra Project by Pizza Express

Among Bandra's ever evolving culinary landscape, where restaurants open daily and an equal number shut shop, very few eateries manage to leave a mark and be remembered. It has been a week since my preview meal at the newly launched The Bandra Project by Pizza, but the recall and remembrance value still remains high. The iconic Pizza Express undergoes a makeover to transform itself into a community hub that is a lot more than just a restaurant and bar. Because change is the only constant in life. 

Three reasons why Bandra's newest hang out, The Bandra Project by Pizza Express, should be on your must eat list:

24 June 2017

Five Reasons to Visit JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

A good hotel is so much more than plush interiors, comfortable beds and delicious food. I love hotels that go above and beyond the conventional route, to create memories and experiences that the guest rarely forgets. Which is why I fell head over heels in love with the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa property. The hotel has a soul that resonates strongly within the walls, and positivity that reflects on the faces of their smiling staff. 

I was visiting JW Mussoorie as a part of the Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal organised by the property in association with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of the APB Cook Studio, to discover more about the region of Gahrwal and their cuisine. (You can read more about the trip here.) Promoting the local Garhwali cuisine is just one of the many initiatives the hotel has undertaken. They want to help promote the culture of the region and the hidden beauty of Garhwal, all under the 'sustainable tourism' bracket. Any hotel that truly practices this form of responsible tourism - generating income and employment along with alleviating any deeper impact on environment and local culture - is a must visit in my opinion. In case you are looking for more reasons to visit, here they are. Read on!

(Image Courtesy: JW Marriott Mussorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa)

1. The Food - A Multicultural Experience

We were there on a culinary soujourn, so it's only fair that I mention their food first. Usually, five star hotels manage to wow guests with the world cuisine on offer, but rarely do they get their regional dishes spot on. At the JW Mussoorie, they take extra care in showcasing Garhwali food and bringing it to the forefront. Credit here goes to the Food and Beverage team that includes two lovely local women from the nearby village, who have been employed by the hotel to train their staff and cook meals for their patrons.
A must have at the property is the Garhwali thali, available on request at the JW Cafe - their all day dining restaurant. The thali is a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with a few popular Garhwali dishes, with the mountains around you for company. I love that they manage to do rustic dishes like the Kandli Ka Saag - a vegetable dish made from bichoo ghaas aka stinging nettle, with just as much elan as they do a thin crust pizza. The breakfast spread here is mighty impressive, especially because they rustle up local favourites such as Gehat ka Paratha (stuffed horsegram parathas), Aloo Swala (thick aloo puris), and Urad Dal Pakodas. Ask nicely and they'll even throw in the recipes for you to replicate at home.

Want a break from the local cusine? (Though I wouldn't see why.) Teppan is their in-house Pan Asian restaurant, where you can not only gorge on delicious sushi, but also watch some live theatrics at the teppanyaki counter. Or else, nibble on some grills, while you nurse your cocktail looking out at the Northern Garhwal range of mountains from the classy Trout House Grill and Bar. Don't forget to sip on their famed Hot Chocolate at Perch - a tea lounge that offers a panoramic view of the mountains - with a book and your thoughts for company.

We were lucky enough to indulge in a beautiful Garhwali Fusion meal where the chefs used local ingredients infused with modern cooking techniques. When a kitchen churns out genius dishes like Stinging Grass and Pinenut Kebabs or a gateaux made out of the local Bal Mithai, you know you're in for a gastronomic treat.

Garhwal on a Plate

23 June 2017

My June Food Favourites

The monsoons create havoc outside my window as I type this. A strong urge of piping hot bhajiyas and hot chocolate envelope me, and I cannot help but wonder why no baarish ka khaana is being listed out in this post. Nevertheless, July is coming up and a lot of deep fried foods and steaming beverages shall be consumed. Until then here is a round up of my June food favourites - dishes, restaurants and events that made the cut.

1. When you can't decide between coffee and dessert - Starbucks's Summer Beverages FTW!
What I love about Starbucks is that they keep reinventing their menu, introducing newer drinks keeping in mind seasonal specials. Their indulgent drinks on offer currently are the Coconut Strawberry Bliss Frappuccino and the Roasted Marshmallow S'mores Frappuccino. The former was an interesting blend of tropical coconut and citrus strawberries, while the latter was a creamy vanilla coffee interspersed with marshmallow chunks. Not a fan of sugary coffee drinks? Try their Cold Brew instead - a strong Kenyan brew served over ice.

Available at Starbucks outlets all over the country.

16 June 2017

Five Places to Check Out in Bohri Mohalla For That Perfect Iftaar Feast

Visiting the Bohri Mohalla area or the Minara Masjid area during Ramzan is about more than just food; it is an experience. The lights and sounds are captivating. You cannot help but get drawn into the festivities and camaraderie. It's such a beautiful amalgamation of people from different cultures, religions, and walks of life. And then there's the food. Smells of meat being grilled, malpuas being fried, and masalas being coated. Sights of colourful phirnis and halwas on display, kebabs hanging off skewers, and ginormous tawas cooking up every meat imaginable. 

I wrote these lines back in 2015, when I wrote about another Iftaar walk, which you can read about here. Nothing much has changed in all this time. The vibe at these places during Ramadan and my feeling about the entire eating out experience during this holy month remains the same. Even though most people flock to Mohammed Ali Road and the Minara Masjid area for their share of grub, I have been partial to Bohri Mohalla and the stalls there. There's lesser jostling through crowds here, and the food is just as delicious. Here are my top five stalls/restaurants that you must visit in the Bohri Mohalla area to get your Iftaar feast.

1. Haji Tikka 
For your fix of tikkas, kebabs and seekhs.
Haji Tikka started off as a single man Mr. Haji Ahmed, selling tikkas from a stall on the side of the road over fifty years ago, and now has people flocking to the shop from all over the city for their fix of kebabs. In addition to the street side stall, they also have a sit down joint right next door, where you can eat in peace.
Must Try - The Mutton Seekhs, with pudina chutney and naan on the side. The Khiri or the udder that come perfectly charred and melt in your mouth. The Tandoori Chicken - massive leg piece, the flesh full of flavour. Make sure you order some delicious naan on the side to go with your kebabs.

11 June 2017

Exploring Garhwal - The Food. The Sights. The People.

It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. ~ Sir Edmund Hillary

The mountains can be both awe-inspiring as well as overwhelming. Their grandeur can make you feel like an inconsequential speck in the larger scheme of things, which is exactly how I felt driving around in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand during our four-day Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal. I, a self proclaimed beach bum with an exaggerated fear of heights, finally learnt to give in to nature, live in the moment and embrace the mountains. 'Respect the mountains, and she'll respect you back,' my grandfather's saying came echoing back to me.

Garhwal is a mountainous region in the state of Uttarakhand; it's vibrant Garhwali culture has remained overshadowed and underexposed over the decades. Their simple, hearty cuisine and sustainable cooking methods are also lesser known among the larger population; which is why the Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal organized by the JW Marriott Walnut Grove Resort and Spa, Mussoorie in collaboration with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of the APB Cook Studio was the perfect way to acquaint myself with their culture and cuisine. Along the way I fell in love with a region I knew very little about, a cuisine I had never eaten before, and people we never knew yet they welcomed us into their world with open arms. It was love at first sight. And/or first bite.

Room with a view!
1. The Food

Garhwali food is 'pahadi' in every way: It is greatly influenced by the hilly terrain on which the crops are grown, and the seasonal changes that come with harsh winters and pleasant summers. 

Garhwali food is 'unpretentious': It is cooked using local ingredients using simple techniques, with minimal spices and flavouring. The diet is primarily focused around vegetables and grains.

Garhwali food is 'local': Here vegetables are grown in the backyards of Garhwali homes, and picked out just before mealtime. The many meals we had during our stay here had ingredients sourced right from the gardens and smaller farms. The Garhwalis have been implementing techniques of sustainable farming and the farm-to-fork movement long before they came into vogue.

Garhwali food is 'seasonal': It's heavier in winter and lighter in summer. Winter meals including heavier dals, meat dishes and leafy greens are prepared with the idea of keeping the body warm and satiated for a long time. Summer brings out lighter and easier to digest meal components (such as dals, gourds, buttermilk and curd preparations) that are cooling and nourishing.

Garhwali food is 'predominantly vegetarian': Characteristically, their diet is a grain and cereal based one. Fruits and vegetables add fiber to the diet while meat and fish are eaten in curries or as slow-cooked dishes during special occasions. 

We were blessed that we got to experience three traditional Garhwali meals during our time in Mussoorie - two of these were cooked by local residents in their hilly village homes, while the third one was cooked by the chefs at the JW Mussoorie. All three meals were sublime, comforting and cooked with lots of love.

5 June 2017

My May Food Favourites

The heat in the month of May was absolutely unbearable. All it made me want to do was curl up inside an air conditioned room, and sip on smoothies. Luckily, I got a chance to escape to the hills of Mussoorie, to explore a lesser known cuisine. But more on that in later blogposts. Back home in Mumbai, the eating out was kept to a bare minimum courtesy the excruciating heat. Here is a round up of the restaurants and dishes that made it to my May Food Favourites list - 

1. For those Sindhi Sunday breakfasts - Sindhu Sweets, Khar.
Let the aroma of freshly fried pakwans lead you to Sindhu Sweets, which is located at a two minute walk from Khar railway station. This sweet shop specializes in a few Sindhi dishes such as Dal Pakwaan, Aloo Tuk, Sindhi Kadhi Chawal, and more. Most of these are weekly specials and only available on a Sunday morning.
My favourite is their Dal Pakwaan - chana daal served with a drizzle of chutney and chopped onions on top. This is mopped up with a deep fried, crisp, large puri called a pakwaan. The combination is hearty, satiating and makes for that perfect Sunday indulgence. Skip their slightly overrated neighbour Tharu Sweets and try Sindhu the next time you're in the area.
Contact: Sindhu Sweets, Satguru Shopping Centre, Ram Krishna Nagar, Third Road, Khar West, Khar, Mumbai. Phone: 022 2600664.

3 June 2017

Bombay Bygone - Bandra By Foot

'Once you live in Mumbai, no place else will ever be good enough.'
I feel exactly the same way about Bandra - Queen of Mumbai's Suburbs. Having lived most of my life here, I have seen Bandra undergo a metamorphosis  into the thriving, contemporary suburb it is today. But the Bandra I knew and grew up in was different. It was not the hipster Bandra filled with clubs and high rises we know now. It was slow, lackadaisical and relaxed. It was filled with tiny bylanes and arterial roads flanked with picturesque bungalows on either sides.

The roads now are either dug up or saturated with traffic at all times. The roads then were sparsely covered by automobiles, so much so that we spent summer afternoons playing cricket on the streets. The houses now are modern sky scrapers and high buildings. The houses then were heritage bungalows and ancestral homes. The restaurants now serve modern, world cuisine that encourages foodies from all across the city to dine here. The restaurants then were small cafes run by locals, mom and pop establishments, and bakeries with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through. 

The only thing constant in life is change, and that holds true for our city as well. But there are still a few pockets in Bandra even today, that are clutching onto the past. You can still find old bungalows, locals selling snacks and condiments, and streets that are picturesque as always in certain parts of Bandra. Which is the motivation behind my #BandraByFoot initiative, where my mother and I take fellow Bandra lovers on a heritage walk to explore Bandra of the yore. 

2 June 2017

And The Butchery Begins - House of Cards, Season 5

'Watch out for each other. And yes, watch each other.'

As Claire Underwood looks chillingly into the camera and utters these words in the first few minutes of the episode, you know the Underwoods are back. And how! Season 5 of the political drama House of Cards re-appears back on the screen after a long hiatus. And House of Cards fans including yours truly, shall remain hooked onto the telly until they binge watch the entire season. The Underwoods have that sort of magnetic pull over you.

Season 4 ended on a high note with the Underwoods making the statement, 'We do not submit to terror. We make the terror.' As Frank and Claire struggle to keep their heads afloat the storm that is the upcoming elections they are so badly losing, you know they shall use every trick in the book to emerge victorious. Not to mention they're reeling under the bad press that came out of Tom Hammerschmidt's expose article. The first episode gives us enough hints that the Underwoods shall remain at their utmost worst and scheming best. *BEWARE spoilers ahead.

26 May 2017

Books n Beyond Box - The May Harry Potter Special

I am a sucker for monthly subscription boxes. As regular readers of the blog, you'll must have been subjected to a number of beauty and food subscription box reviews on these very pages. This is the first time I've subscribed to a book subscription box, and decided to review it on the blog. What motivated me you ask? Two words - Harry Potter.

Books n Beyond Box is one of the many book subscription boxes that have popped up in the country, over the past few months. This is not a novel concept abroad however, but shipping costs to India have deterred me from ordering in the past. Book subscription boxes fulfill your monthly quota of book shopping, by sending home a box filled with books and reading related goodies. Most book boxes contain a copy (or two) of the latest bestseller, reading related merchandise (such as bookmarks, book sleeves, notepads etc.), some snacks to nibble on while you read, and other assorted knick knacks.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a Harry Potter addict. Don't even want to check myself into rehab, no thanks! (Check out a fun Harry Potter related blogpost from the archives here.) So when I heard Books n Beyond Box was doing a special Harry Potter May edition, I signed up the next minute. Take all my money, gimme Harry Potter merchandise! 

13 May 2017

Brunch Diaries - Henpecked, Kala Ghoda

Third time is a charm at Henpecked. The location that houses Henpecked was previously occupied by Farmer and Sons, and a restaurant called Nico Bombay before that. Now I haven't dined at Henpecked's two predecessors, but from what I hear the concept of all three restaurants remains rooted at the 'farm to table' movement. Read: fresh, healthy, locally sourced produce that won't make you feel guilty even if you indulge. So much so, that they've carried forward signature dishes and popular items from the previous menus into that of Henpecked's.

Henpecked sets off a fun, relaxed vibe the minute you enter. A large glass cabinet frames one wall and is filled with cute paraphernalia, knick knacks, and picture books. The space, though small in surface area, still manages to not feel cluttered or cramped. A rarity in this city where small restaurants means your knocking elbows with the diner on the next table. Our server tells us that shifting the bar to the back of the restaurant and not along one side has done the trick.

Since the third time is the charm, here are three reasons why you should visit Henpecked the next time you're looking for a place to brunch at!

1 May 2017

My April Food Favourites

I was neck deep in commitments during the entire month of April - both on the personal and professional front. But that does not mean I didn't eat my way across the city as I normally do. The end of another month brings with it yet another round up of my food favourites. Here is a list of favourite restaurants, dishes, and home chefs that I tried and that made the cut to be featured on my April Food Favourites list.

1. When you can't decide between ice cream or paan - K. Rustom's Paan Ice Cream
You have got to be living under some sort of rock or living inside a hipster bubble if you've never had the old school ice cream sandwiches from K. Rustom in Churchgate. Creamy ice cream in the most delectable flavours come sandwiched between two wafer biscuits to create an enjoyable experience. It's such great fun biting into these ice cream sandwiches without any spoons or plates. It's a race to finish off your ice cream before the summer heat melts it onto your Zara top. (In my case, the summer heat usually wins. It's fun nevertheless.)
The paan ice cream is my favourite among their extensive flavour list - so much so that I haven't ended up trying any other variant. (Though that definitely needs to change. Mango here I come!) The paan ice cream hits you with it's strong and refreshing flavour, with the occasional bite of gulkand within. This is the perfect dessert to get when you can't decide between ice cream or paan post your meal.
K. Rustom Ice Cream, 87 Stadium House, Opposite Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai

17 April 2017

A Taste of Japan in Mumbai

I am a huge Japanese food aficionado. I crave sushi in the middle of a random day at work. I dream of beautiful bowls of ramen - each put together so intricately and painstakingly such that they resemble a piece of art. I swear I cried a little bit when I saw the Ivan Ramen episode of Chef's Table. And Wasabi bhujia is my current obsession in life. You'll get the drift. 

My interest towards Japanese food started after I begun reading Haruki Murakami novels where the author interweaves food so seamlessly into the narrative. My love affair with Japanese food started during my trip to Singapore last year where I ensured I tried the best South East Asian cuisine this foodie paradise has to offer. Lots of sushi, sashimi, ramen bowls, and rice bowls that the locals call Donburi or 'Don' were devoured. 

I'm always on the lookout for good (re: authentic) Japanese food in the city and there are very few places that serve the real deal. So when The Leela offered to host us for some Japanese food one evening, I cancelled all plans and made my way over to Andheri East. As a part of their recurrent Cherry Blossom Festival, the property is serving up a variety of Japanese delicacies all this month at Citrus - their global dining restaurant. Now while I couldn't make it for the Cherry Blossom flowering festival in Japan this year, the food festival at The Leela would have to suffice. 

7 April 2017

Brunch Diaries - Le Pain Quotidien

Brunch on Sunday > Clubbing on Saturday

If there is one mantra I strongly live by, it has got to be the one above. There is nothing like waking up late on a Sunday, fresh as a daisy without a heavy hungover head, and spending the rest of the day indulging in the best of food and drink. I dream of summery white dresses, mimosas and sangrias, a runny Eggs Benedict on a bed of ham, waffles that are crunchy from outside - airy within, and conversations that last the entire day. My long standing affair with Sunday brunches has been documented on this blog time and again. Last Sunday was no different - we visited Le Pain Quotidien at Bandra Kurla Complex for their Sunday brunch and sampled some of the new dishes on their specially curated summer menu.

The interiors of LPQ epitomise simplicity and class. Minimalist wooden furniture, interiors that are bright and beaming, with large glass panelled walls that allow plenty of sunlight to shine through during the day. Not to forget their large community tables, a concept which they pioneered in the city when LPQ started off years ago. 

On My Table - Spicy Mushroom Tartine, Mediterranean Platter
The 'farm to table' concept is resplendent in every dish that LPQ puts up. The ingredients are organic wherever possible, all produce is fresh and wholesome, and a meal here satiates you without the guilt. Le Pain Quotidien translates to 'Our Daily Bread' in French which is clearly reflected in their freshly baked in-house loaves and other bakery products.

4 April 2017

Travel the World with Tasty Treat's Firangi Bhujia

This is the era of fusion food where we're seeing western classics being incorporated with desi flavours. And we've also witnessed Indian dishes getting modified to imbibe tastes and techniques of the west. The more we travel, the more we're exposed to world cuisines and the more we enjoy this amalgamation of desi-videsi

Attempting to do just that is the brand Tasty Treats with their innovative Firangi Bhujia series of snacks. This comfort food which we've all grown up on, gets a makeover in four different avatars after travelling all over the world. The flavours include a Wasabi variant representing Japan, Schezwan representing China, Peri Peri representing Africa, and Barbeque representing America. 

Humble bhujia does a world tour
The Firangi Bhujia depicts the perfect example of global diversity; it's a dish that has traveled the world, infusing world flavours yet it remains true to the Indian roots. Comforting yet foreign at the same time. Priced at Rs. 45 this is a perfect snack for a number of occasions. 
  • With IPL just around the corner, pair it with a chilled fizzy drink on a summer day, sit back with your friends and watch the match. 
  • Serve it along with some masala chai for some tea time chit-chat with your gal pals. 
  • It's also versatile enough to be incorporated into simple dishes. Try a Peri Peri Bhujia Tamatar sabzi - a twist on the Kathiyawad Sev Tamatar sabzi. Or else whip up a quick raita with a bhujia flavour of your choice. They'll also go really well on top of canapes.

31 March 2017

My March Food Favourites

It felt like the month of March would never end. If an Ashutosh Gowariker movie was a month, it would be March. But all these never ending days, meant one thing. It meant a lot of food was eaten, some of which I blogged about previously. (Read about Pradeep Gomantak Bhojnalaya here. Also read about two new bar launches that happened last month here.) A few have made the cut and are featured on my March Food Favourites list. Read on!

 1. If you're looking for a South East Asian foodcation - Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, Lower Parel
When every third restaurant in the city doles out Pan Asian food, what do you do to stand out? You make your dishes the star, you let your food sing without any gimmicks - which is exactly what Shizusan Shophouse and Bar does. The entire three storeyed space is modelled on the concept of a South East Asian shophouse - a traditional business cum residential building. The decor has intricate Asian elements without being garish, and made me fall in love with the space the minute I walked in.
The menu is extensive, pictorial and elaborates on the history and ingredients behind each dish. The average food aficionado can spend an hour reading the menu, educating themselves, which is exactly what I did! Fill yourself up on their dimsums, baos, and sushi selection - each one better than the next. Their Lobster Moneybags steamed dimsums had the perfect outer casing without being too rubbery or disintegrating too easily, with a lobster filling that was seasoned just right. The baos are pillowy soft that make you want to take them back to bed with you, stuffed with meats like Peking Duck and Pork Belly that represent South East Asian cuisine perfectly. With four dimsums to a basket and two baos to a plate, you only wish there was more.
Everything on their menu right from the tapas to mains to their desserts highlight dishes that are native to SEA culinary heritage, painstakingly put together by Chef Paul Kinny. Here you'll find the Chilli Crab from Singapore, the Malay-Thai Massaman Curry, a Korean Gochujang Buri Bop, Adobo Braised Pork Belly from the Phillipines, a Bread Pudding made from the famous Singaporean Kaya Jam, the Hong Kong Egg Custard Tart...we could go on! They also do a Milo Milkshake, which I drank copious amounts of during my time in Singapore. Go on a little foodcation with Shizusan, and explore the cusine of South East Asia. Highly recommended!
Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, Skyzone, Ground Floor, Near Lifestyle Gate, High Street Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel, Mumbai

26 March 2017

Take a Trip to Drunky Town With These New Bars

With restaurants and bars sprouting all around the city like moss during monsoons how does one determine which bar is worth your time, money and most importantly worth those calories. Yours truly recommends trying out these two watering holes among all the new entrants the city has seen this month. Read on, and then drink on! *hic*

1. Swey, Worli
Perched on the top floor of the now defunct Atria mall in Worli lies Swey - a sprawling casual dining bar where you can nibble on appetizers under the open sky and drink cocktails with the sea breeze in your hair. What I loved about Swey the minute I walked in was the sheer magnitude of the space - large and spaced out unlike most bars in the city where you're bumping elbows with the drunk on the next table.
Their signature cocktails come strongly recommended. My pick of the night was the Kale and Hearty - a vodka, spinach, cucumber, kale and ginger mix - that definitely tastes better than it sounds. Why have your greens when you can drink them mixed with alcohol? Another favourite was the highly potent Tequila Surprise - a tequila, kiwi, jalapeno concoction. What I loved about the cocktails here was that they were generous with the alcohol quotient which is a rarity nowadays.

(Left to Right): Rechado Fish Tikka, Cajun Chicken Pizza, Bottle Masala Chicken

13 March 2017

Why We Need to Preserve Restaurants Like Pradeep Gomantak in Fort

There is an unwritten rule every time I dine at South Mumbai's Fort and Colaba areas: I ensure that I dine at a regional restaurant which serves up some local food, or a restaurant that has endured the test of time and is a golden oldie! Enough time, money and calories are spent dining at trendy restaurants and hipster bars, owing to their abundance in the suburbs - Lower Parel and beyond. Which is why my train rides to Churchgate are spent reading up on vintage eateries I haven't been to yet. 

While rambling around in the by-lanes of Fort, I followed my stomach and my heart in the direction of Ideal Corner for some Parsi 'bhonu'. Located right opposite Ideal Corner, is a tiny eatery that you'll miss if you blink, and that finishes as soon as you enter. Pradeep Gomantak Bhojnalaya is your no-frills, average Gomantak joint that serves up home style food tracing back to the Goan Hindus. The food here is simple, hearty fare with a menu that focuses on doling out fish thalis to hungry office goers during lunch hours. This place is a dream for the pescatarian, but also does chicken and mutton thalis if you don't enjoy fish. Vegetarians, stay away!

As I finished my decently average meal at Pradeep Gomantak, I could only think of why we needed more places like these in the city. And why we need to preserve the few that we have remaining.

10 March 2017

Su Casa es Mi Casa

Two frisky Rottweiler puppies came bounding up towards me, tails wagging, tongues flying and lay down at my feet. I knew this meal was going to be spectacular even before it began. We were dining at Su Casa - Bandra's newest European restaurant - one evening. The large al fresco seating with greenery all around makes for the perfect romantic setting, if you can ignore the random mosquito that is. The indoor dining room is just as classy and dimly lit which will explain the poor quality of food pictures you'll are about to endure.

Situated in the new, amoeba-like Bombay Art Society building the decor and menu does justice to the classy location. The food menu is predominantly European with a lot of the ingredients fresh and flown in. The menu focuses on clean eating, food that is rustic and holistic with the menu spanning small plates, mains and indulgent desserts. 

We started our meal off enveloped in greenery, nestled under the open sky with some small plates and cocktails for company. The Beef Tostada (Rs. 385/-) was a crisp tortilla base topped with perfectly done meat, coriander, sour cream, jalapenos and bell peppers. The crunch from the tortilla perfectly contrasted the softer elements seated on top, the sour cream providing a sense of relief from the heat of the jalapenos and peppers. Never thought a vegetarian appetizer would be my pick of the night, but the Patatas Bravas (Rs. 350/-) won because of how beautifully the potatoes were treated. The confit potatoes served with a garlic aioli proved that simplicity is might!

(Clockwise):  Beef Tostadas, Fish Tempura Bao, Patatas Bravas

27 February 2017

My February Food Favourites

It's that time of the month again. It's time for my February food favourites, where I list down the restaurants I ate at, and the dishes I tried that were memorable enough to make the cut this month. Now February may have only 28 days, but that did not deter me from eating my way across the city to bring you my February food favourites.

1. If you want to bring the boys to the yard - Keventers, Carter Road
The notifications on my phone went berserk after I Instagramed my Keventers milkshake bottle on their launch night at Carter Road. I was returning back from my evening walk and decided to undo the past hour's hard work with a thick shake from here. With barely any buzz or fanfare, Delhi's favourite family milkshake store launched their first Mumbai outlet. The menu spans fruit-based shakes, indulgent thick shakes and a few warm beverages. The shakes are all served in their trademark milk bottles, which you can take home, which excited me as much as the milkshake did. The Mumbai-inspired Keventers bottles have the Gateway of India, Bandra Worli Sea Sink, the Taj Mahal hotel and other landmark structures embossed on the exterior. 
The shakes are delicious, refreshing and homely. I tried the Strawberry Fields - a beautiful strawberry and chocolate fusion.  Not saccharine sweetness or extra thickness; very unlike the sort of shakes one finds at joints nowadays. Was the shake good? Yes! Was it worth all the excitement that people around me seemed to be exuding? Not sure. But then again I am not a Delhi kid, and I truly understand the value of childhood nostalgia. Keventers is a classic, and for all the right reasons.
Keventers, Shop 9, Building B, Gagangiri Premises Co-Operative Society Ltd., Carter Road, Bandra West

29 January 2017

My January Food Favourites

I've started the new year with a bang. I've incessantly stuffed my face with the most delicious food, explored some new haunts in the city, and rediscovered old favorites. Sometimes it becomes impossible to write individual blog posts on each of my dining experiences to due lack of time or lack of content, so I've decided to list down my favorites at the end of the month, every month. In completely random order, here are my January food favorites. 

1. Value for Money Meal Deal - The Sassy Spoon, Bandra

Now The Sassy Spoon may be known for their delicious food, but they're definitely not known to be pocket friendly. Their fabulous weekday lunch deals are about to change that notion. We had a lovely four course lunch there complete with soup/salad, appetizer, mains and dessert priced at Rs 745 ALL INCLUSIVE. (Yes, you read that right. This is not a hoax.) They did not skimp on the portion size as well, and by the end of the mains we were stuffed to the gills. Make sure you try the Coriander and Rava Crusted Bombil, the Confit Garlic Fettuccine, and the moist Carrot cake - all on the set menu! They also do a similar three course meal deal for Rs 545 and that may be worth considering if you're a light eater.

2. A Meal with a View - Boardwalk by Flamboyante, Mandwa Jetty, Alibaug

An hour long ferry ride from the Gateway of India brings you to the picturesque Mandwa Jetty. It is right here that Boardwalk by Flamboyante is housed - a stunning, sea facing restaurant that screams serenity and luxury, drizzled with a little bit of romance. The outside section is housed right on the pier, and you can look ahead at the Arabian Sea lashing while you guzzle down your third beer. The white and blue Greco-Roman inspired space is perfect for a sundowner, and the music amps up as the evening progresses. They serve some delicious grub as well - thin pizzas, smokey kebabs, and sizzling sizzlers. (Sorry. Not sorry.) Highly recommended for your next Sunday brunch, or a leisure lunch date.

21 January 2017

Consider Karnala Bird Sanctuary For Your Next One Day Picnic

The sprawling Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Nature Park in Panvel is home to over 222 species of birds. If you are a nature lover – this place is paradise! It’s a different feeling altogether watching the birds in their natural habitats calling out to each other, amidst a variety of trees and shrubs that we city dwellers rarely see. Karnala Bird Sanctuary makes for a pleasant retreat, and is a wonderful spot for a one day picnic close to the city.

Karnala Fort and Sanctuary is located off the Mumbai-Pune national highway, 12 kms from Panvel. Turn on Google Navigation and you shall have no problem if you are driving down. It's a 90-120 minute drive one way, depending on the traffic. Otherwise, take a bus or an auto from Panvel station, though this may add to your travel time.


11 January 2017

Bombay Bygone: Touring CST Station

I am one of those people for whom 'Bombay' will always remain 'Bombay' - an emotion more than a city. The marvelous structure now known as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, was introduced to me as Victoria Terminus back then. A structure I drove past on many occasions as a child, looking out of the window in awe and admiration at the giant structure. A sea of people gushing in and out of this intricate building is what my earliest memories of CST station hold - and nothing has changed over these years.

CST station is a historic structure constructed in 1888, and has been christened as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. But not a lot of people know that the 128 year old station houses a railway museum and also conducts heritage tours for those who'd like to get up close and personal with this beautiful structure. I enrolled for the CST Station Heritage Museum Tour one weekday afternoon, and I felt like a tourist in my own city.

Star Chamber