Challah Bread- And why bread means so much to the world.

 

The genesis of this post lies in a very vociferous, yet intriguing discussion my friends and me had over lunch a few days ago. Here is what happened.

A few of us friends decided to catch up for lunch. After the first round of tipple and starters , we ordered the main course, Now that order was to take a while and so the manager courteously brought us a bread basket and some house dips. The basket had a nice selection; slices of baguettes, a focaccia, a nice spunky garlic bread and some herbed bread. And while I immersed myself in the combination of breads and dips, my friends got into a discussion on the virtues of bread; so everything from the evolution of bread to which (bread)goes well with what sort of curries and so on. The discussion was getting intense just to be interrupted by the arrival of the mains.As I made my way home I couldn’t but help reminiscing the breads discussion and ended up getting a bit philosophical about breads.

I have always been a breads person ever since I remember. Bandra, where I spent some part of my childhood, has plenty of bakeries that churn out bread 24/7. Even today, nothing excites me more than that heady, soul fulfilling aroma of freshly baked bread that permeates from a bakery. Its very difficult not to take notice. Personally, I love white breads, and I think that is how breads should be. Buttery, crumbly, chewy and sometimes enhanced with the goodness of eggs. Bread that draws it self to you, speaks to you. Yes, the virtues of wholewheat, multi grain are well chronicled but it would never match up to how soul satisfying a simple white loaf can be.

I have made breads earlier and I thought I must give it a hit again. The heart yearned for something more than just a simple loaf. I wanted to go through the process again and come up with something fancier. I went back and scoured the archives when I came across this recipe for Jewish Challah Bread by my good friend and food blogger Saee Koranne Khandekar. I knew this was the one. Now, I am told Jewish cuisine is sacrosanct and conforms to very strict laws on what can be done and what cant. However, I decided to play around a bit and add some garlic just to up the glam a bit. Saee cautioned me that it may not be Kosher once i added the garlic. But my heart was on it and I went ahead.

The entire process of kneading, proofing went off smooth and when the oven timer went off I almost had tears of joy.The dark tan telling me that it was done well on the outside and the hollow sound signalling that all was well on the inside. I couldn’t have been happier.

Isnt it true that the simplest thing give you the most joy in life.

 

IMG_20160723_175150316.jpg

Before the second proof

IMG_20160723_181736167.jpg

Challah Bread (This recipe will yield one large and one small loaf)

 

Ingredients:

  • 750 grams flour
  • 15-20 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 25 grams butter
  • approx 500 mls water for kneading and some more for the yeast.
  • black sesame seeds, for garnishing.
  • Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Activate the yeast, by dissolving it in the warm water  along with the sugar. Leave aside for 5-7 minutes till frothy.
  • In a sufficiently large vessel, combine the flour, salt and butter and combine gently
  • Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, 1 whole egg and another yolk and knead till you have dough that is pliable and not sticky. You may need to add flour or water in the kneading process so go by the eye
  • Place this dough in a bowl and cover it with a moist cloth to rise. this should take approximately 40 odd minutes.
  • Once the dough has risen, give it a gentle knock. Add the garlic and knead again for 10 minutes.
  • Make 3 equal parts of the dough and braid them to resemble a plait.
  • Once done, leave it again for the second proofing. Approximately 20 odd minutes.
  • Brush with the egg white and sprinkle the sesame seeds on the loaves and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • If you want to indulge, slather a generous amount of butter while the loaf is still warm..

 

IMG_20160723_190724244.jpg

Braided Beauty

Advertisements

Across the ocean- Sri Lanka in a post

Have you ever felt a certain emptiness post a vacation? Particularly when you return and begin unpacking. 

It’s only when you start unpacking that you the realise how wonderful your trip was. Those laughs that make you cry, those boarding passes,the dinner bills and those shoes that have carried back a little sand from the beaches you’ve visited. It’s actually the unpacking that creates those special memories that go on to fill your heart with warmth and love.

I recently went through the same motions on returning from a lovely trip to Sri Lanka. It was going to be my first trip with J and I wanted to make this memorable in every way; and may I add, I wasn’t disappointed. Truth be told, I don’t think anyone who travels there would be. The place has something for everyone, If you love the mountains, trudge up to Sigriya and see yourself almost walking in the clouds, or let your soul soak up the spirituality of Kandy; or simply walk around the beaches of Bentota or Galle face and watch as the sun winds up his day and the blue sky goes off to sleep by  covering itself in a blanket of dark clouds. I could go on and on but I would rather focus on the best part the food. For the adventures and what you need to do bit, scroll down towards the end. FOr the food, read on.

Ohh and yes, Colombo welcomed us with a pleasant little surprise.

A misty aircarft window? No we were welcome with a water canon salute  at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo. This was because flight UL122 had just completed a long 13 years of service and was to retire (in other words, this was the last flight for the aircraft). This picture is from inside the aircraft but for a change I fall short of prose to describe the once in a lifetime experience.

IMG_2828

In your trip as you look around, you will see a lot of bakeries. That is because the Sri Lankans love eating small eats through the day. Locals call it short eats. These shorts are either fried or baked and sometimes engulfed in a bread. We did try products from many bakeries in the course of our trip but we particularly grew fond of this place called ‘Perera and sons’; Our driver said it was addressed as ‘P &S’. They had outlets all over the country which ensured we didnt miss them though. I loved the fish rolls from there. Shredded fish and mashed potato which had a lovely spicy masala that thumped your tastebuds. This was one calorific indulgence that we couldn’t have enough off in the entire trip.

Fish rolls

Fish rolls. Image: Perera & sons website

Kottu Roti: Sri Lanka’s answer to roti canai. Available everywhere from the upscale starred restaurants to the humble street stalls, it seemed to be a local favorite. Made from a particular type of Sri Lankan roti (i forget the name though), a generous mix of vegetables, and protein (meat or fish of your choice) and huge splash of spice.My suggestion is to have it from the street side stalls; comes with a bit of theater there. You will see your vendor making it on a flat gridle and making a rhythmic sound.  That’s the thrill. This one is a prawn kottu roti from Yalla Restaurant on Galle Road.

IMG_20160107_202132079

Sri Lankan Fried Rice: I was actually surprised to see this on the menu and i ordered it more out of curiosity than hunger. But what a refreshing change from the sauce drenched Chinese rice we are served here. Infact, this one was a nice mix of spicy and sour which i guess was from tamarind extract. A bit dry i felt if you opt of the sunny side up but otherwise the runny yolk will take care of it. This one was pork from the restaurant at Hotel Ocean where we stayed.

SL Fried rice.jpg

The Devil: I mean literally. I was told this was a ‘don’t miss’. Now, the dish is named devil because its hot. Stir fried meat or seafood or veggies in tomato base with chillies, chillies and then some more chillies. I personally dont have a high tolerance towards heat but this was washed down with a chilled Lions beer.

IMG_2939

Sri Lankan curries and dhal: The Lankans fetish for curries is seen from the variety that is on offer. Luscious, thick and with generous pieces of fish (usually) finished up with coconut milk. My guide told me that the meats were taken in the morning and seafood in the afternoon. Not sure why. Same with the dhal (like our dal) just like the curries, finished off a nice splash of coconut milk. I was not complaining.

DEvil.jpg

Mixed Veg rice, Tilapia Curry, Pol Sambol and Appalam at Hotel Hungry Lion Sigiriya.

IMG_2935.JPG

We went the full course at this wonderful place. 3 Veggies, Dhal, fish curry and the works.

Appam/ Hoppers: This one slipped out across the Indian ocean. Feremented Rice flour and coconut milk batter in a crisped up in a sizzling wok.Usually used as cutlery to hold up curries or egg or anything you can imagine.  Another version is the string hoppers that are steam. We had one made from white rice and from brown rice. I liked the ones made from brown rice for the nuttier taste it had.

Appam.jpg

I am told nature has its way of balancing out. Sri Lankan food is spicier and the tropica climate doesn’t help either. Well the way out is to have King Cocomut. THese huge orange globules filled with the swettest water I’ve ever had. J and I happily ditched the colas for these. Please dont miss these

King coconut.jpg

Watalappan: Sri Lankan custard. Coconutty, eggy, caradmomy and all things nice.this lovely custard was the highlight of our trip. But i noticed this were only served in small portions where ever we ate. I checked with our guide but there wasnt any conclusive answer.

IMG_3040.JPG

That my dear friends is what we ate in Sri Lanka. For the must do’s hop on to this blog post written by dear friend and food blogger Zenia Irani. She’s covered most of the things you need to do and take my word, you will come back and thank her later.

How mai nurtured my love for food.

 

Mai1

Like most kids in the ’80s, I grew up with with my grandparents. Everyday, mum would drop me off to their place on her way to work and pick me up on her way back home. In between that, the day would be spent either creating a ruckus around the house or prodding my grandfather to tell me some stories or to take me along for his market trips. But, the one memory  that remains with me is of my grandmother (i called her mai in konkani) lovingly serving me more (than the usual quantity) rice, curry and whatever else coaxing me to eat saying “Samma jov putta, oodlo zaije ne maa” (eat well my son, you’ve got to grow up well). Not that I was a fussy eater, I never was. It was just her way of making sure the apple of her eye was well fed. I was very close to my mai, a woman who was simple, hardworking and caring. The warmth in her demeanor only being superseded by the love in her food. My abba (grandfather) had a slightly more public profile and my mai the more homely, quiter kinds. To her, the house was her kingdom she’d nurtured with her sweat and blood. 

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you will know how big an influence my mom has been on my cooking. But, in retrospect I think I got infatuated with food in my mai’s house. It was there that I fell in love with groaning and grunting of the ‘waan’ (the huge stone mill used in mangalorean homes to grind coconut for curries) as she ground the masala for the curry, the aroma of the curry simmering on the stove made me hungry way before lunch time. And, the rhythmic sizzle of the vegetable being tempered would lead me to the kitchen invariably questioning “Kale randtai mai”(what have you cooked mai)

My grandparents were generous hosts and I am told no one ever went back without being well fed. In fact, the first question, she’d ask as soon you enter the house was “Zovlai gi” (have you eaten). As far as i can remember, my mai would spend most of her day in the kitchen. Her food much like her persona was simple and to the point. But in the simplicity of her food lay its beauty. The spicy pork sorpotel, the amber coloured fish curry where the fish had to be put in just before the curry reached a particular sizzle and that cardamom flavored vorn into which you could almost dive in and remain there for eternity.

In the last days of her life, mai was ill. But that smile never left her face. As she sat on her chair;  fingers devoutly clutching on to the rosary, that reliable Christian intercession of hope. I was about 8 at that time and unable to comprehend her illness. I had always seen her active. And when i would drop by to visit her, she’d smile. With great difficulty, she’d move her hand around my cheeks. She couldn’t speak, but I know she asked me ” Kaso asai putta” (how are you my child)  She left us a few months later. It was difficult for me to come to terms with the reality. The reality that mai is no more there. No one behind whom i can hide incase I’ve made some mischief. I thought she’d always be there.

Truth be told, I hadn’t planned to write this post. But it was mai’s birthday yesterday (July 10) and i felt that needed to mention mai here. After all, wasn’t it her cooking that set the background for my romance with food. 

There are so many memories and stories that I could narrate of mai and abba and one among them is this. In most Christian homes, there is a tradition to ask the elders to bless you when you leave home. When I would leave i too would do the same. Mai would hug me tight and respond “Devache besav puta. Oodlo zaa” (God bless you my child, grow up soon). I know for sure even after she’s long gone, to her I will still be her tiny tot.

Bohri Mohalla- Mumbai’s Annual Meat Pilgrimage.

I begin with  mixed bag of feelings as I write this post. On one hand, I am extremely delighted to be back to doing what i do best; share my love for food. Over the last 6 months personal commitments have kept me away from the blog, but I will now try and be a bit more regular in posting.

This blog post is about a wonderful journey into food so delicious, it made you want more. Not for the gluttony, but for the sheer poetry in its composure.Food that transcended every socio- cultural and socio- economic make up that the print and electronic media have worked so hard to create.

If you have been following Mumbai based bloggers chances are you would have read or seen posts either about Bohri Mohalla or Mohammed Ali Road where almost all of Mumbai meat loving crowd converge during the holy month of Ramzan. I had been meaning to go there for the last two or three years now; however, I some how could never make it. This year I made up my mind to go as soon as Ramzan began. Almost a now-or never mandate. Next step, forming a group. A few watsapp exchanges later the taskforce was ready. Nothing, not even the dreaded Mumbai rains could stop us. You could choose between Mohd. Ali Road and Bohri Mohalla. The atmosphere at the former is more carnival like and festive. And I must admit, there are more food options there. Bohri Mohalla is a bit quiter, like that cute little younger brother who tries to mimic his older brother and creates a niche of his own in doing so. For our trip, we chose the later.

IMG-20160626-WA0000

Carnival like atmosphere at Mohd. Ali Road

So what did we eat there?

Our first stop was Haji Tikka.

I had done some asking before going and I was told to keep this place as a top priority. In any case tikka’s are a weak point for me. Truth be told you need not reach the place, the rustic aroma of meat being roasted on a bed of flames will guide you to it.

IMG-20160704-WA0003

As easy as it seems, its not easy to grill meats; but this guy in the picture somehow managed to do it with the skill and precision of a kamikaze pilot. Giving it the just the right char and just doing enough to cook the meat.,Not more, not less. Precision was his mantra.

Our First order was the Achaari Chicken Tikka.  Boneless Chicken pieces marinated in a pickle like spice. We tasted one bite and smiled. We knew we were off to a wonderful start. Honestly, I would have liked a little more achaari flavoring but then at the back of my mind I realised that the flavoring didnt over power the actual taste of the meat. Isnt that how it should be?AC.jpg

Next up was the Chicken Tangdi Kebab.  They say its easy to get the simpler things wrong. What can you do wrong with a nice plump leg of chicken. A lot, if you dont cook and more importantly season it well. No such worries here. Plump, Juicy meat, grilled just right and that generous sprinkle of aamchur over the top. We smiled in generous approval. Again, very rustic and had a slight chew. No complaints thoughIMG_20160625_205645408.jpg

What followed was orgasm on a plate. The Mutton Seekh kebab. Once again perfect case of cooking made simple and beautiful. Spicy, moist and almost cast spell on you like. We didnt plan for seconds, we called for them.

 

SK

Seekh Kebab

We must have the baida roti quipped someone in planning phase. So, we proceeded to India hotel. Apparently, run by a very Abraham look alike Haji Saahab. I so wanted to have a tete-a-tete with him but apparently he had left early. The good thing about India Hotel is you can sit in a small setup across the road, if there is some place that is.

You would have guessed the first order by now. The chicken baida roti. Chicken mince encased in a nice, thin almost paper like egg omlette, dunked in flour and fried. If this did get your mouth to water, i doubt anything will.

IMG_20160625_212020836.jpg

No meal is complete without rice, is it? We were recommended the Mutton Pulao, but we unanimously opted for chicken so as to go easy on our gluttonal sins. Dont be deceived by the simple and bland look the pulao takes on. Once you chew on the morsel of rice, the spiciness doesnt burst all in one go. Little by little, you taste the spices, each of them. And then that furious little kick of spice down your throat. Once again, seconds were called for without discussions.

IMG_20160625_212352982

By now, we could almost hear the warm Malpuas being done across the road crying for our affection and attention. A debate ensued if we needed to have ice creams first or the warmer desserts first. Finally, we headed to much heralded Tawakkal Sweets for our fill of their famous malpuas. Take a look at the minimal menu though

TWKL.jpg

What followed was perhaps the only sour note in an other great evening of great eats. Kesar Phirni, not overtly sweet but somehow I didn’t like it. Though somehow, the rest of the gang liked the thing. Perhaps, its got to do with my cynicism when it comes to desserts.

Phirni.jpg

Thakfully, what followed satisfied the soul so much, you could attain moksha and not regret it. It was the double ande ka malpua (Double egg malpua). This  one was huge, greasy and chewy. Warm enough for you to wrap it round you and sleep on a dreary rainy night.

Malpua.jpg

Our next pit stop was Taj Ice creams. Run by the very amicable Mr. Ice Creamwala. Don’t be mislead, its his actual name and not a moniker. Apparently, Bohris have surnames that match their profession. So then, whats so special about the regular chocolate, strawberry, custard apple flavoured ice creams. Two things actually. Mr. Ice creamwala tells me that this is the same recipe the family has been following for 125 years and secondly, they ice creams were churned by hand. Day after day. Taste them yourselves, you will know the difference.Sadly, some of the flavours were not available, Mr. Ice creamwala humbly apologised saying a few staff were unwell and hadnt reported to work.

Taj Ice Cream1.jpg

Clockwise: Musk Melon, Strawberry, Custard apple.

 

Among the six of us, the damages were about INR.2000/- so you could do the math.

There was much more on the eating wishlist and the spirit was definately willing, however, the flesh was weak. As  we wound up our food orgy, something caught my eye and attention. A notice by the civic authorities declaring the redevelopment of Bohri Mohalla. That explained the cranes and the bull dozers around there. My heart sank and from a moment of ecstatic highs, I went through depressing lows. I knew it could be another one or at max two years before civilisation takes over and history, tradition are buried under concrete only to make it to text books that the coming generations will not care about.

My earnest recommendation, go and take your kids along. If not for the food, for the atmosphere, the tradition and the memories. Let food live on like it has always done. By way of stories and word of mouth

 

 

#Tummyturns3- My thoughts.

The tummy tale turns three today.

I can’t believe I got this far and honestly. It seemed I started only yesterday. I can almost hear you ask “how does it feel?” Frankly, my mind is wandering from stratospheric heights to absymal depths. I should be happy after all three years is not a small period of time to keep persuing something. But I haven’t been blogging regularly and that is what curdles my stomach. A lot of have called up, some have written to check on how I have been and why there have been no regular posts. The fact is that there is an important event in the family and that will take up most of my time over the next month and half. I shall soon share the news here on the blog.

Coming back to the birthday I feel immensely satisfied. This has been one journey in my life where I have only gained and then gained some more. The best satisfaction is when i tick the publish button on the blog.I doubt there will be any other pleasure greater than that. That though is the virtual bit. I can only consider my self blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful circle of friends who not only share my passion for cooking but my passion for food as a subject. I thoroughly enjoy discussing recipes but tastes, textures and cuisines with them. A few have moved on from being friends in the virtual world to ones in the real world and that is just the icing in the cake.

Blogging they say is a solitary profession. But no blogger can be successful without his or her  readers. I have a wonderful set of them as well. I was pleasantly surprised when I was at a mall the other day and a lady walked up to me asking if I was Elson from the tummy tale. She went on to tell me how she tried a few of my recipes and over came her fear of cooking meat. Well if you have created something what better joy when your creation gets you recognised from an almost unexpected corner.

Behind the scenes is where all the action is. For me, my two taste queens take that onus. They criticize, the console and congratulate. Often clicking pictures and setting up takes time. They bear with me with the patience of the prophet Job. My sister took notes from her Kolkata eata to write a post on the blog. I don’t think I would have made it beyond the first few posts without their support.

But there have been some wonderful moments in these three years. The beat probably was meeting up with Chef Sanjeev Kappor at the IFBA awards 2014. But then meeting with Chef Kapoor is the dream of every foodie isnt it.My friends Shanti Padukone (riotofflavours), Renita Mascarenhas (@culinaryzeal) and Vignesh Iyer (@storysoviets) did a Chinese food walk at Marol. We did a few indianised Chinese restaurants including a fried rice that had Cumin in it. At another instance, Renita, Shanti and I did a cook off with each of us cooking a dish in the menu. Isnt that the beauty of food? These lovely instances are like pearls all bound together by that wonderful string called passion of food.

The joy I feel is too big to describe in words. And I promise you I will be back. To cooking. To clicking and to posting. Till then I would love to end with the words of a song by Kishore Kumar

Chalte chalte, mere ye geet yaad rakhna

Kabhi alvida naa kehna. Kabhi alvida naa kehna

My Kolkatta eats- Guest Post by my sister Elaine Sequeira

Any description of food is good. So when my sister Elaine went on a week long work cum pleasure trip to the City of joy, the  food memories she described brought me joy. I requested her to write her experience for all of you and she obliged. Grab a cup of coffee and read a nice long post that will make you board the next flight to Kolkatta.

My tryst with the City of Joy, Kolkata

Food….for me is a soul touching topic. Having lived in a family that swears by food, I could not escape being a die-hard foodie myself. I put food in three categories—soul-touching, food for life, and daily food. My love for food was one reason of accepting an invite from a friend to come and spend a week with her in Kolkata.

While accepting the invite, my first question to her was “khaana accha hoga na?” Given the fact that I am a die-hard non-vegetarian, she assured me that I would not have vegetarian food even for a single day while in Kolkata. Did she fulfill her promise? Yes she did….and how….

Bengalis swear by their fish, chicken, beef, pork and of course a wide-variety of delightful veggies. And thus began our romance with the food and splendor of Kolkata. We began the trip with a lunch at Arsalan at Arina Garden Court. The first thing we did even before sitting was ordering the Arsalan special assorted platter kebabs. The platter included a mix of chicken malai kebabs, fish kebabs, and some lovely juicy mutton bara kebabs. The chicken kebabs were juicy and succulent, but the lamb racks….umm…..juicy, soft and melt in the mouth…

20150912_140607

Chicken Kebabs

20150912_140623

Lamb rack

Then came the turn of the famous Bengali biryani…this time, we went for chicken biryani to fulfill our hunger pangs. The biryani came overflowing in a plate and we just went for it. Unlike the other biryani’s, this one was different. Spices right enough to arouse the senses, no overpowering gravy bathed rice. On the contrary, each grain had a hint of the gravy but also had its individual taste. One interesting fact here, the potato that accompanies the biryani is first par-boiled, and then fried. This helps get the maximum sweetness of the potato. The whole egg over the biryani was an add-on. Chicken + potato + rice + egg = 3 happy tummies and 3 big bright smiles.

20150912_141919

Arsalan special biryani

With our tummies at peace, we moved on to see the beautiful city, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Victoria Memorial, Fort William, Eden Gardens (we got to enter Eden gardens…special thanks to our friend who requested that we Mumbaiites are very eager to see the stadium), Chowrinhgee, Shaheed Minar, New Market…..the list was unending…

All this sight-seeing made us hungry again. Next, we were told, our dinner would be at Peter Cat (famous for its Chelo Kebabs). Now Peter Cat is known to be a restaurant where cocktails are cheaper than the food. Right next to Peter cat is Flury’s (don’t visit unless you are willing to spend for over-priced items). And next to Flury’s is Au Bon Pain (more about this later).

Coming back to Peter Cat, the restaurant provides an interesting mix of Indian and continental along with an environment that is quirky and unique. A trip to the city of joy would be incomplete without dining here. The amazing chelo kebabs, the wonderful cocktails and some lovely desserts. First day at Kolkata was satisfying and satiating. The kebabs did make us want to stay back and have more and more of them.

20150912_200426

The menu at Peter Cat….the shape says it all…

20150912_204524

Chello kebabs…the dollop of butter and the yummy kebabs make you want for more…The dish consists of  chicken kebabs prepared in rare spices and Persian herbs that are served on a bed of salty buttery, saffroned rice and egg. Peter Cat claims this special dish to be “The protected Regional product of West Bengal.” The egg and butter give the dish a different twist.

After the Sunday morning service, we headed to Au Bon Pain (this is a must visit place for good breakfast options at reasonable prices). I am thankful for having friends who are good eaters and are least concerned of calories and healthy eating.

A typical European type of breakfast, loads of options to choose from. The breakfast was so filling that we didn’t have to have lunch and had to have dinner directly; this after walking for nearly 20 km seeing some more of beautiful Kolkata.

20150913_100133

The kings breakfast at Au Bon Pain

For dinner, our host treated us to some lovely Thai food from “Asia in the Box.” Our host chose the dishes for us which were tried and tested. We had rice with crabmeat, Chicken Takrai (chicken breasts cooked in fish sauce, chicken broth, and lemon grass) and Thai green curry. We were overwhelmed with the delicate flavors infused in the chicken gravy and the lovely rice. Another good food day came to an end.

One interesting ingredient that Bengali food includes is Gondhoraj (aroma king) Lebu (lime) as it is called in Bengali. The fruit itself is oblong and somewhat difficult to be squeezed by hand. One has to cut it into relatively long areas with its thick green bark, and then gently press the fruit to extract the juice. The extract is some real, heavy aromatic dough bits. A tiny quantity of this extract is enough to perk up the dullest daal or the most tasteless vegetables a hot summer day. These limes have a sweet smell and are used for making slush, Kolkata’s steamed bhetki fillets in a coconut-gondhoraj gravy, gondhoraj soufflé and much more.

gandhraj

Gondhoraj (Image courtesy: Google images)

The next day, we decided to go around Kumortuli to see how the images of Goddess Durga are made. Awe and wonder filled us for the craftsmanship of the artists there. Such simplicity yet, such wonderful designs. Again, the whole walk through the area made us hungry. This time we decided to visit Mitra café. One look at it would categorize it as any other road side eatery—small and very basic amenities; but the food, “finger licking good.” We ordered fish cutlet, chicken cutlet, chicken kabiraji, and mutton stew. One of the best parts of Kolkata is that it never disappoints you with food. The simplicity of the dish and the taste that filled each sense was simply awesome. No words describe the yummy food of Mitra café.

20150914_205028

Chicken cutlet – A soft chicken breast marinated with their secret spices and deep fried to perfection

20150914_205040

Chicken kabiraji – Fried chicken in lacy egg net – Kabiraji originally means coverage. History says that kabiraji cutlet is actually a colloquial version of ‘Coverage or CoverEgg’ cutlet introduced by the British.

20150914_205150

Fish cutlet

20150914_205347

The humble mutton stew which looked simple, but was packed with flavors. A simple dish of mutton cooked in coconut milk and boiled veggies

The yellow sauce that you see with the cutlets here is called kashundi, originally made out of mustard, green chilies, and garlic, this tangy sauce is now made from mangoes as well.

The next destination was Bohemian. The best of the whole trip. Slightly heavier on the pocket, but, the food, totally worth it. I’ll leave the photos to do the talking.

20150915_213213

Aam kashundi soaked chicken escallops

20150915_215118

Main Course – Pork vindaloo, anglo Indian spices, served with garlic and flattened rice pilaf and wilted greens

20150915_215136

Main Course – Murshidabadi barbecued chicken with onion chutney and wine poached eggs, served with mustard and green chilli pita and potato mustard salad

20150915_223514

Dessert – Pantua baked Alaska

20150915_224557

Dessert – Cigar and coffee mousse

20150915_223458

Dessert – Mustard and tender coconut mousse

The next stop was Café Ekante, this place has a good ambience, but the food is not good enough. You can visit it if you feel like getting away from a day of hectic work schedules.

20150916_192248

Betki fillet marinated in mustard sauce (kashundi) and wrapped in burnt leaf

20150916_194704

Dessert – Nolen gurer (date palm jaggery) ice cream

20150916_194720

Dessert – Bhapa sandesh

Our last and best stop after Bohemian was Mrs. Magpie Bistro for an awesome breakfast before leaving for Mumbai. The best part of this place, the view, an amazing view of the Gitanjali stadium. Again, the breakfast menu, the cup cakes, the ginger cookies and the amazing décor. Look at the pictures to decide for yourself….

20150917_105507

20150917_110943

Breakfast – Clockwise – Chicken ‘n’ cheddar puff, Ham ‘n’ cheese quiche, Hot chocolate

20150917_114312

Sweet endings

The trip ended with us packing lots of sandesh and kacha gola for people at home. Must say, on the food front, Kolkata impressed me so much that I am already planning my next trip there to explore some more food for tummy tales.

A special mention to Anindita Ghosh, Anusreaa Paul, and Sandychris Inchiparamban.

Last but not the least, a heartfelt THANK YOU to our host and dost Pallavi Das (pictured below with her pet Jules) for making this trip unforgettable.

IMG-20150917-WA0014 (2)

Mesmerising Mangalore- and some lovely food experiences.

Caveat: A long but pictoral post ahead. Most pictures taken on my phone who has an average IQ, please pardon the quality.

It was about 13:10 hours on a balmy Monday afternoon at Mangalore Central Railway Station. The Matsyagandha was ready to begin her journey to Mumbai and announced that by a hooting whistle. As I took my seat by the window, my mind wandered back to the to the last few days that I had spent in my home town.

This trip (it was an important one for me on the personal front) was planned four months in advance and while planning this trip I had a plan. I wanted to try food beyond whats usually cooked at the relatives. And when you reach the end of this post, you will be realise how glad I was to do that. Another thing I did was ignore the pricey star rated restaurants and went in for the smaller no -frills places. Again, a gamble that paid rich dividends.

The Chinese are coming. Hotel Hao Ming, Collectors Gate, Balmatta.

Tell someone that you get some really good Chinese food in Mangalore and you are sure to get a few smirks. I visited this place in 2013 on my last trip with my cousin. We were fairly jaded with the coconutty gravies and yearned for something that could break the clutter. I dont really remember what we ate back then but the restaurant left an impression. And if that impressions stays on your mind for a good two years, I presume it must be jolly good. The restaurant by itself is fairly basic in terms of decor; like you would get in any regular CHinese joint in Mumbai. The menu is a mix between Indian Chinese and some authentic stuff. I saw pork spareribs on the menu. I dont think there is beef. But again for a smallish place, fairly energetic and competent wait staff.

20150808_130443

The appetizer was a crispy chicken. I presume this may be a best seller in the restaurant because in a crowded rush hour I observed this being ordered at almost every table. A few nibbles later, I figured why. When you have chicken thats seasoned perfectly, coated with finely shredded cabbage and fried like a dream, it will be a hit. This is the dish for a game night with many pints of beer

20150808_131739

Our mains were a Chef Special dish i ordered on the recommendations of our waiter. It a fairly large portions that is a combination of a chicken gravy and you can either choose Noodles or rice. I opted for  noodles. The gravy had a nice consistency and wasnt gloppy or corn floury like the ones in Mumbai. I particularly loved the generous amount of chicken.in the dish. Couldn’t figure out what the fried cabbage was doing there as a garnish. I guess the chef loves his greens.

20150808_131825

This is how it looked when we decimated it.

The  plate over flowed at the Tulu Nadu food festival, Hotel Simbly South, Balmatta.

Can you describe that feeling when you get a bonus cheque along with your salary. Something similar was what i felt when I seen an advertisement for a Tulu food festival close to where we were staying. A few glances exchanged and we knew our next pit stop. 27 items on the menu. I was too small a man to finish this and so we decided to share one thali among the three of us. Simply put, a kings feast.

20150809_214122

You thought it would cost a king’s ransom? Check the price on the top right of the image.

20150809_210444

20150809_210520

To pick one of my favorites from this meal would be like asking a mother to pick between her two kids. Everything on the platter was well thought about making it not only a treat to the palette; but to your senses. If i still have to be partial, I would say i liked the white chutney and the chicken sukkha amongst all.

Mutton Sukkha and Neer Dosa at Hotel Simply South, Balmatta

Its not very often that I visit a restaurant for the second time. But if i do, that means the place has something special that was left to be tried. Whilst exploring the menu during the thali, I seen there was a mutton sukkha. Now for us Mangaloreans, a mutton or beef or a chicken sukkha is an alter ego. Its the dish your mum makes the best. Something told me i needed to try this. A second visit was to be made. I came back for the mutton sukkha that evening and with it I called for the etrnal workhorse of Mangalorean food the Neer dosa or paan pole. What a dish. A handful of ingredients each coming together as a beautifully as the philharmonic orchestra.. Bite sized lamb pieces just tossed in coconut oil, lots of pepper, some chili and tons of coconuts. And accompanied by pillowy soft dosa. food heaven if someone could ever experience. See the pictures and let them tell you.20150809_211719 20150809_211744

And, an Ideal Dessert place- Ideal Ice Cream Parlour, Hampankatta

Tucked away in one corner of Mangalore city is Hampankatta Market. Mangalores Crawford Market. Tucked in a corner of the market is Ideals Ice cream parlour. Whats so special about the ice cream. Everything I’d say. Far away from the gelatos and the gourmet ice creams the world is moving towards, here is a place that offers doesnt mess with traditional flavours; on the contrary, the flavour combines with other flavours and knicks to elevate it to levels where you can smile. Because something cold you’ve eaten just warmed the cockles of your heart. The only flavour i didnt like was Tiramisu. Perhaps because of my aversion of coffee in desserts. The rest of them, added an inch to my smile and my waist.

IMG_2785

Jackpot- Such a brilliant orange sorbet and a mushy gajar halva

Jackpot- Such a brilliant orange sorbet and a mushy gajar halva

Tiramisu- The black sheep

Tiramisu- The black sheep

Beehive- Strawberry, Cream and gajarhalva..

Beehive- Strawberry, Cream and gajar halva.. and tons of nuts

After most meals I could only curl up and grab my fair share of sleep. In a later post, I will try and share some home cooked food experience of Mangalore. Meanwhile, do keep those warm letters of concern coming in. It feels nice to hear from you even outside the blog. 🙂