Tuesday, May 29, 2012

With Whom Will You Dine Before You Die? 3rd May, Out of The Blue and Burrp Bloggers’ Meet

Name three people alive or dead, who you would like to have dinner with? I will actually choose 8, lively and the most interesting people in Mumbai city. Thanks to a little foodie meet organized by Burrp Mumbai and Out of The Blue I had the perfect evening earlier this month. A table full of delicious food, surrounded by 8 bright, food encyclopedias, that evening just kept getting better and better with each course. There were talks of the food, the lovely Desi Fondue, which someone commented, tasted a tad like Dal Makhani with all the spices. And there were talks of great chefs, their recipes and achievements alternated with handing out the delicious pieces of ham, chicken and grilled vegetables between the two exquisite fondues.

Everyone had their take on Reality Food Shows, from Masterchef India, UK, Australia and TopChef to Gordon Ramsay and his cocky ways. Each one was strongly opinionated, eloquent and knowledgeable. From Food Books to Travel talk, that evening was the greatest, most exciting Food Class that I’ve ever had. It was amazing to learn about different opinions, what excites people about food and the way it is presented on television. Even better to share those little instances of ‘I thought I was the only one who thought Gordon Ramsay’s brash behavior was over-played on American TV shows!’.

Let me tell you about each one of our Twitter Foodie present from the Mumbai Brigade that evening. To make this simpler, I am going to refer to all of us as elements of a salad.

Let’s start with our host, @Kunalailani7 from Out of The Blue. Like the Lettuce, Kunal was playing the composed host who was bringing the whole party together in many ways. He was sitting on one side just listening, smiling and absorbing all the excitement of us foodies that evening. He ordered stuffed, fried mushrooms. I am not a big fan of this dish and honestly, trying a cold piece out in the end after all the great food, did not help its cause.

@TheBigBhookad is how I like to see all foodies. Like a tomato, the tanginess of sarcasm with the sweetness of humour and the firm support of great knowledge of food and the city that brings it all together in his head. He talks because he knows, as his eyes twinkle behind those thick-framed glasses. He ordered a large, four meat sizzler, if I remember correctly. I tried it and thought in comparison with other main dishes at the table, this dish was not that great.

@TheBlackSakura is most definitely the olive in our salad. Her intricate observation and clear description of what goes right and wrong with food, along with the concentrated flavor of her information on cuisines and ingredients gives her this defining character, like the olive. Incidentally, she ordered the same dish as I did, pork with sage with mashed potatoes. The meat was delicate, subtly flavored, a gorgeous main dish.

@ScrollnInk , her writing is what defines her in the real sense. She is the Cucumber of the salad, composed and calmly expressing with clarity of thought. Her use of the language in expressing food is very impressive. I missed the soup course because I had arrived a little later!

@BellyFirstTweet is the spicy bell pepper! With spicy tweets and all the great photographs of food she clicked that evening. Short and spicy comments with the gift of food illustration! She ordered the lamb shanks and was generous enough to give me an entire shank, which I loved. It was crispy on the outside, the tender sweetness of meat inside.

@Foodchants, from Burrp Mumbai, the second of our hosts who brought this idea together, mayonnaise dressing of the group, really bringing it all together. The rich flavor of writing, creativity combining food with work that evening, she really doubled well! She ordered a fish main dish, the sauce was too rich and needed some tang to cut the richness, which was missing.

@desh, the crispy herbed crouton of the group, adding the crunchy to our salad! Desh has literally traveled around this desh. His description of every food experience, as he traveled around makes him an amazing conversationalist and an interesting company for a great dinner. He ordered the grilled rawas with lemon butter that evening, and who can go wrong with that dish really!

@Caramelwings, she is really the caramelized chicken wing bits in that salad. She is peppy, crunchy and full of smart punches and one-liners. Her great attitude added the texture and intense flavor to the Mumbai food brigade. She ordered the pork sizzler that evening which has faded in my memory now.

@foodtryingstein, well, I don’t want it to seem like I am blowing my own trumpet, but I would really like to be the fragrant basil in the salad, simply because I was smelling like one since I had just finished cooking a batch of spaghetti arabiatta before that long and bumpy rickshaw ride to powai for my pork and sage. Well, you can’t deny it when the stomach growls! So that says it all, my account of that evening, the question’s answered. I will dine with those that love, savour and know their food. Those that live to eat!

Friday, May 18, 2012

No-Blender Gauti Chicken Curry

This is a No-Blender, spicy chicken curry. Freshly roasted and ground spices flavoured with crushed onion and garlic and cooked in a runny, rassaa style curry.

Serves 4


Chicken, curry cut pieces 700g 8 to 10 pieces
Turmeric 1 tspn
Salt to taste
Red Chilli powder 1 tspn
Garam Masala 2 tspn (Homemade is preferred)
Mustard Oil ½ cup
Ghee 1 tbspn
Cumin 1 tspn
Coriander seeds 1 tbspn
Cloves 4-5
Peppercorn 4-5
BlackStone Flower/ DagadPhool/ Pather Ke Phool 2 tspn
Dried Red Chilli 2-3
Onion 1
Garlic 4-5
Dried Coconut, grated ½ cup


1) First, heat mustard oil in a heavy bottom pan upto smoking point. Once the oil starts fuming turn off the heat and keep it aside to cool. The cooked oil does not have the off smell of raw mustard oil and gives a distinct flavor to the food.
2) In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon mustard oil, turmeric, salt, red chili powder, garam masala powder, mix it. Rub this mixture on the pieces of chicken and let it stand for a couple of hours.
3) Crush the onion with your fist or with a belan (rolling pin) to bring out the flavour. Crush the garlic pods with the broad side of a knife.
4) Heat one spoon of ghee in a pan, add cumin, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and dagadphool along with dried red chilies. Lightly brown the spices. Then crush them all together with a pestle and mortar or Khallal aur moosal as we know it.

5) Heat the mustard oil in a pan, add in the crushed onion and garlic and allow it to brown a little. Now, add in the grated coconut and let the masala turn golden brown.
6) Add in the chicken pieces (first the bigger bony pieces followed by the tender ones after two minutes). Allow them to sear and slightly brown on the sides.
7) Add in the crushed spice mixture and two cups of water. Mix and add salt if necessary. Cover it with a lid and allow the chicken to cook on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
8) Serve the chicken curry hot with steamed rice or warm chapatis.

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Shakahari; Shakahari, Pune Marriott

Name: Shakahari, Marriott, Pune
Location: Marriott, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
Date of Visit: 15th May, 2012 (Dinner)

My Mom is a vegetarian, so is my mausi, mami, nani and Pinku. Picking a restaurant is not easy all around. Until five years back, their only options were udipi restaurants and pao bhaji places. Among the few vegetarian fine-dining restaurants that have popped up in the city, Shakahari is one of the most talked about. I will be honest, I am a true carnivore and going to Shakahari wasn’t my first choice. We had to go for Mom’s choice, it being my parents’ 36th ‘Meeting’ Anniversary. Yes, I was born to a very romantic couple. Anyway, getting back to Shakahari, this is a very beautifully designed restaurant. I’d say it is even better than Alto Vino, the Italian restaurant in Marriott.

It is spacious and private, the wooden aesthetics and mood lighting promised a cozy and elegant evening ahead. Our server was courteous, attentive with a good knowledge of the menu but most of all, he seemed interested in what he was doing, a rare find.

What a Delicious cabbage roll!
I do appreciate a chef who manages to respect the integrity of fresh ingredients by not over-flavoring them, and also one that whips up a light mousse like theirs.
Honestly, apart from their Tava mushroom appetiser which was lightly flavored with fresh ground spices and mustard oil, lightly flavored baby potatoes for main course, the dumplings and few items on the dessert buffet, the food wasn’t extraordinary. Even so, now I realize there were quite a few dishes that I liked.

Tava Mushrooms
The menu and method of service had some interesting aspects to it. For starters, the menu included vegetarian Sushi, steamed broccoli, a wide range of salads and a wider range of condiments and dressings. In the appetizers as well as the main course selection there were Asian and Indian items with a good mix of regular favorites and some unique dishes to choose from. The Buddhist likes of glass noodles and steamed vegetables as well as Indian, Rajasthani delicacies like Papad aur Mangodi ki sabzi made up for a rare range.
Main Dishes
Shakahari’s is what I call a Smart Service Style. The soup, salad and dessert are laid on the buffet, while the appetisers and main course are served at the table. Each group of diners can choose two Asian and three Indian appetisers and two Asian and three Indian main course from the selection specified on the menu card. There are two advantages in this form of service; the first being that the quality of food is maintained at a la carte standards because the food hasn’t been lying in the trays for hours, and the second being that the wastage of food is minimal because diners don’t tend to over serve. I know that I always fill my plate up in a buffet because I don’t want to get up for a second helping. The irony is that I end up going for the second helping of the dishes that I like anyway.
The dessert selection was charmingly extravagant with chocolate gateau to passion fruit cheesecake, lamingtons and my personal favourite, baked yogurt. There were ice creams and balu shahi along with moong dal halwa and other Indian sweets. The white chocolate mousse was beautifully done and the best part was that all of the desserts were lightly sweetened. This allowed us to load ourselves heavily with the sweets without wanting to cleanse our palate with karela juice!

I was pleasantly surprised by this extravagant and fine vegetarian meal. It is a treat for the Global vegetarian and certainly did not fail to amuse and entice the palate of a meat worshipper like myself and that’s the Thing About This Place.

Ambience: 8/ 10 Very Good
Value For Money: 7/ 10 Good
Service: 7/ 10 Good
Menu: 7/ 10 Good
Food: 7/ 10 Good
That Thing About This Place: 8/ 10 Very Good

Very Good Ambience + Good Value For Money + Good Service + Good Menu + Good Food + Very Good That Thing About This Place = Good

Rating = 7/ 10