FOOD AND FITNESS
It’s the ultimate dream: to love food, enjoy it, and still remain fit and healthy. For most of us, that’s what it remains: a dream. It should be doubly difficult if you earn your daily bread through eating. There is however, a living paradox—author, columnist and food writer Rashmi Uday Singh, who manages to stay fit and svelte. She explains how Even the most intelligent and perceptive often remark to me: “You don’t look like a food critic.”
What these refined gentlemen and ladies mean is that I don’t hog mindlessly and that I don’t live up to their medieval, preconceived notion of a food critic. According to them, it’s blasphemy not to eat and drink to the exclusion of everything else. I’d only like to ask, are all wine-tasters alcoholics? And why on earth I do have to look like a stuffed samosa to live up to anyone’s idea of what a food critic should look like? Why do I have to be obese and suffering from the after-effects of too much eating and drinking, just to prove that I eat for a living? The truth of the matter is that I am passionate about food. It excites me! I cannot resist sinful desserts, ad I am a chocoholic, the darkest, most handsome love of mylife. I love restaurants and eat out all the time. However, being fit and being able to respond with all my senses to food, is equally important to me. And having scripted, directed, produced and anchored a weekly TV show, Health Today, I have been fortunate enough to find a way to devote myself to my two passions. The weekly show was telecast for one year and researched it for over two years. I had the opportunity to interview and spend time with brilliant experts in the medical field. I questioned them relentlessly, chewed on every single answer they gave and digested it. Nutritionists, heart specialists, ayurvedacharyas, oncologists, naturopaths, homeopaths …my cameras recorded every single nuance, be it the “Vatta Pacifying diet” of Deepak Chopra in Los Angeles or the “heart smart” diet of Dr. Naresh Trehan. Banglores Naturopathy Clinic supplied as many relevant answers as the Apollo Hospital in Chennai. Dr. Praful Desai of Tata Memorial explained how diet can actually prevent cancer, while nutritionists explained how food can lower stress levels. What emerged was something basic and fundamental. When some wise guy said “make your vacation”, he definitely had me in mind.
Here are some of my tried and tasted and tested tips:
It’s all about the appetite mechanism: Okay, so you know it all, but it still might help to read what follows. Because it is only when one understands appetite mechanism that one realises that bad eating habits don’t just mean calorific and junk food but also being out of harmony with the way you eat. Ever wondered why eating and emotions are linked? Our appetite is coordinated in an area called the hypothalamus and it is this area, which controls a lot of our emotions. The “feeding” centre is divided into “hunger” and “fullness” centers. The number of signals reaching these centers dictate whether you feel hungry or full. It’s important to feel pleasantly full after a meal, because you are less likely to binge in between. Basically, you need to get tuned in to the ‘satiety’ value of eating. These ‘satiety’ signals are sent back in different stages.
Chewing: Nobody ever told e why should I chew my food well and slowly. Sure, it helps in the production of saliva and digestion, but what it also does is send signals of satiety to the brain. So, the more you chew, the more time you take over eating, the greater the perception of satiety. This is because within the jaw are stretch receptors which respond when you chew.
Exciting the taste buds: Foods that turn you on are called ‘organoleptic’. And the great news is that organoleptic foods [foods which smell, look, taste and feel good in the mouth] are actually good for you. They register satisfaction quicker and they increase the production of saliva and digestive juices. If you have exciting flavours, varying temperatures and textures within a meal, your mouth has a far greater opportunity to send satiety signals.
Lifting the arm: It may sound really strange, but the more you lift you arm to eat, the greater will be the filling of fullness. That’s because you give your brain the time and the chance to register those signals.
Trust your stomach: Within the stomach wall are stretch –receptors which send signals of fullness to your brain when there is food in your stomach. When you eat sugary, refined or fatty food they pass through your stomach quickly and satiety signals are not sent back to the brain. So, you tend to eat a lot more than you actually need to. But, when you eat high-fibre food (fruits, veggies, whole grains) they stay in the stomach longer and send satiety signals to the brain. So, while I taste almost everything, it’s the high-fibre food that I concentrate on.
Food and mood: It might help to know that it’s not just alchohol which is a mood-altering substance. Our everyday food does affect our moods too. Within the brain, chemicals help transmit messages from one nerve cell to another. There are two such substances known as endorphins, which affect our moods—serotonin and norepinephrine. The body makes these particular endorphins from the food we eat and therefore, we can, to a certain extent raise the level of these substances in the brain by eating specific foods. The main source of these endorphins is sugary carbohydrate-rich food. This explains why many of us feel happier when we eat chocolates and sweets. However the problem with eating too much of these is that sugary foods are absorbed rapidly into the blood. And though this causes a serotonin rush, it is broken down rapidly and eventually leads to a drop in blood sugar and endorphin levels. So, such foods can leave you feeling even lower than before. On the other hand, natural sugars give you a steady high. Feeling low and depressed is also linked to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals and therefore, to improper eating. A huge database of research points in the direction of eating right and light. So, for the sake of your mood, it is best to stick to natural sugars and natural starches. Natural sugar are found in fruits and veggies (as opposed to refined sugars in honey, cakes etc.) and natural starches occur in wholegrains, brown rice, beans, fruits and veggies (as opposed to refined starches in white brad, pastas etc.). these natural foods keep you clear-eyed and energetic. The reason? They release energy at a slower steadier pace, do not slow down your metabolism and and so don’t end up channelising the blood supply away from your brain. In other words, they keep you feeling fresh and in a good mood. Naturally!
Helpful tips on eating the right way
Position of eating: slouching is bad idea. Sitting upright helps. It places your stomach in a position where gravity helps rather than hinders.
Relax while eating: Digestion requires the flow of blood to your stomach but when your are under stress or upset, the stress hormones in your blood make much of the blood stream go to your limbs, this hinders digestion.
Your environment is important: If you eat live and treat your meals as just a fuel-stop-over then you may actually be hindering you health. You must value meal times as enjoyable pastimes. I make it a point to picnic, to set up candlelight dinners, to have interesting company, to eat with one’s love and of course, to eat in restaurants. All these environments relax me amd make my digestive juices flow, thereby helping swiftly and effortlessly digest all that I have eaten.
Who wants to kiss and ashtray?: Smoking kills…the tastebuds. Moreover, cigarettes discolour your nails and lips and ages you skin. And anyway, who wants to kiss an ashtray?
Drinking plenty of water: I begin my day and end it with warm water. Deepak Chopra advises sipping hot water through the day if you want to lose weight and flush out toxins.
Moderation is the name of the game: Moderation may be a boring word, but it works. You can taste everything, relish it, enjoy it and do so as intensely and passionately for the rest of your life. It’s not about denial and fanaticism, it is about celebrating food and savouring it in all its delicious forms. It is about enjoying it!
There is plenty more to say, but even plenty more to learn as I eat my way through life. As I said before, I eat for a living and have a huge appetite for finding out more ways and means of eating my way to more health and fitness.
Kya naam hai! Full marks. Can you think of a better name than “Tiffin box etc” for a casual eatery that swiftly serves many an Indian regional cuisine through the day and home delivers too? I have the perfect guests to help me check it out, not only are they Sindhi, Maharashtrian and Gujrati but also well-traveled, discerning foodies.
Having just returned from Peru, they are planning their Belgrade and Iceland trip.
While Dr Raju Khubchandani has pioneered pediatric rheumatology in India, writing is his passion and I am riveted by the iconic child-care book he is co-authoring with Dr RK Anand. Shaila Khubchandani, a surgical pathologist of repute, actually finds interpreting Kidney biopsies relaxing as she does looking after their home .We eat our way through the menu, our review follows…
Doodh ka dabbas, bicycle tyres, kettles, caricatures (you get the picture?) adorn the canteen-like space. Tables and benches, open kitchen, paper mats et al.
They take the “etc” in their name very seriously and serve it all… from Awadh to Bengal to South India and even Birmingham, chaats, idli, upma etc etc. Surprisingly it’s the juicy, succulent kebabs (seekh and murg pudina tikka) that come up tops. Must trys…Robustly spiced Balti Birmingham curry, flavorsome Nalli Nihari and Lamb Koshe Mangsho. Go for the
Mustard infused rawas tikka (the most expensive dish at Rs350). However, the fish curry and the chicken makhanwala are just about okay, but the bhakri is superb.Wind up with the delightful Paan icecream and sugarfree gajjar halwa. VFM meal served in a tiffin box ( veg Rs 350, non veg Rs 420) curry, dal, three chapatis, rice and a sweet. Lunch buffet (Rs 414 for 10 dishes) too.
Uncomfy seating. It can get very noisy.Patchy dishes lacking flavor. Slushy Chettinad chicken, stodgy veg kabab.soggy chappatis served in foil. But the biggest disappointments are the lackluster saibhaji and the tasteless Sindhi curry. No alcohol.
This casual, quick service, open through the day, three month old Tiffin Box etc is somewhat light on the wallet ( Av meal for 2, Rs 1000) but can be heavy on the tummy with it’s many a curry and gravy. Its vast and ambitious menu tries to put all the complex cuisines of India into a Tiffin dabba and falters in doing so. While it does not warrant a special trip across town, Tiffin Box etc, a contemporary dhaba is perfect for a quick desi meal, snack etc for the office goers in the BKC vicinity.
Ground Floor, Naman Center, C 31, Next to Yauatcha, Block G- Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E). Ph 61378080
Open 8 am to midnight
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1000
YOUR REVIEWS OF TBE
Value your twitter and instagram feedback. Please keep it coming (@rashmiudaysingh) @cityslicker_me (quick service, good chicken kolhapuri , dry Dhokla quick cheapandcheerful Indian meal)
@voraviya (TBEs buffet is good!
May Allah shower you with miracles this holy month of Ramadan and always. I am writing this right after a delicious Iftar dinner, thanks to Janhavi and Shan Mohammed giving me the lead about the brand new “Royal Flavors” (Oshiwara 26320600). So I called in for home-delivery (advance notice needed) for a few of their signature dishes. It was the pounded meat and wheat Mutton haleem (Rs 245) the fragrant kache gosht ki biryani (Rs 290) and flavorsome Khubani ka meetha (Rs 110) which worked the magic for us.
Discovering and writing about home talent in my columns and books has been my lifelong passion. So I’ve been tweeting instagramimg and writing and trying to sniff out new talent.
…A million thanks for your fabulous response on twitter instagram and my columns.
We re planning many Tasting sessions in Mumbai (have done many over the years here) and Delhi (have already been conducting them in Chennai).
MUMBAIS next WHAT’S HOT TASTING is on 12th June, 2014…
Meanwhile here’s a LISTING of our great talent…
Company Name: All My Sins
Instagram handles: @allmysins @eteepodar
Facebook : www.facebook.com/allmysinspatisserie
Specialties: Cakes, Desserts (with egg and eggless) ,cookies and flavored butters.
Company Name: The Mad Batter
Specialties: Eggless , Whoopie Pies, Marshmallow Pops, Glitterati ie Glitter Cookie Towers, Cupcakes, Brownies, Cheesecakes also available in miniature form, cookies, Desserts etc.
Company Name: Sweet Favours
Specialties: Cheesecakes, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies and Caramel Apple Pie Cookies.
Name: Sweet Indulgence
Specialties: Molten Chocolate cake and Chocolate Mousse cake
Company Name: Baker’s Hut
Twitter & Instagram handles: @manalimore
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/bakerhut
Specialties: Cakes, Designer Cakes, Eggless, Muffins, Soft
Company Name: Nima Parikh
Specialties: Brownies, Strawberry Pie (in season), Pizza Sauce and Cocktail Pizzas
Company Name: Just Cookies
Specialties: All our products are 100% vegetarian &
eggless without any raising agents. Rose Petal, Whole Wheat Muesli, Lavender
Cookies. Also offer Cookies made in the Flower,
Fruit, Nut & Chocolate line in both Flour & 100%
Whole Wheat option.
Fresh Yogurts in Paired (combination) as well as
individual Flower, Fruit, Nut types using natural
ingredients and flavours.
Paired Yogurts: a) Orange with Chocolate &
Hazelnut b) Banana with Honey & Walnut c)
Citrus & Khus aperitif. (offered in sugar free too)
Muddled Yogurts typically in fruity range with an
option of added muesli/granola for the first time
in India. (offered in sugar free too)
Nolen Gur Souffle for the first time in Mumbai.
Mousses in various Fruit flavours individual
& in combination with other fruit. The most
recent addition is a mousse made using natural
Company Name: Cake Me Out
Instagram handle: @CAKEMEOUTINDIA
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cakemeout.india
Specialties: French Cakes, Desserts, Cakes, Macaroons, Cookies, Eggless, Cheesecakes, Designer cakes
Company Name: Onesta Confections
Twitter handle: @onestaindia & Instagram handle: @onestaconfections
Facebook : facebook.com/onestaconfections
Specialties: Cheesecakes, Gourmet Chocolates, Cupcakes, Mini Pastries and Cakes.
Name: Whisk A Wish
Instagram handle: @whiskawish
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/WhiskAWish
Specialties: Whole Wheat Carrot Cake, Mawa Mithai Cake, Choux Box, Peanut Butter cookies, Chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream
Name: Buns and Muffins
Facebook : www.facebook.com/pages/Bunsnmuffins/
Specialties: Flavorful breads, rolls, calzones, stuffed buns, pies, muffins and cupcakes
KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE FOR MORE DELICIOUS DISCOVERIES…should u want to be part of email me firstname.lastname@example.org tweet instagram @rashmiudaysingh
Vegetarian Italian, Mexican
Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with a gourmet veggie twosome: a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty (US champ in racquetball and squash) Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result? the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.
Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants pleasant ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.
Along with their ala carte Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all 28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio and lasagna pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.
Desi palate tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos, ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas
Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on. No alcohol.
Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points. Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!
Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393
meal for 2 Rs. 1500.
Open noon to midnight
RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5
MUMBAI TO DUBAI
Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai. It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison). I also eat at two brand new, must-try restaurants Yuan (Atlantis) and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right) and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email email@example.com twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh
It is a dream come true and it happens just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I am surrounded by the magic of the spectacular sunset of the Arabian desert (the time when the Ramadan fast is broken) and just then I am regaled with the divine taste of Iftar. Each and every traditional recipe is made with authentic ingredients. As the amazing flavors gallop across our taste buds we are reminded that the lush green polo fields stretching around us are where the shining flanks of pedigreed horses speed past in a spurt of color and sound. I find it difficult to believe that I am in Dubai, the gleaming, glittering city of high rises and malls. Here in Desert Palm sprawling over 150 acres, there is silence as Mother nature’s bounty overflows. The sun sets, gilding the handsome palm trees which embroider the desert sky. From the most amazing gourmet cooking classes to horse-riding classes, shishas, global cuisines, Desert Palm has it all. Right now, its pre-Iftar time and I taste and nibble on the most traditional main course of succulent, seven spiced lamb Kahrouf Mahshi infused with cinnamon cardamom. I mop it up with the traditional four Khubs with fragrant rice and the Superlative Hammour Harra fish too. We start with the traditional Mezze of creamy Hummus, Moutabel, Tabouleh and Fattoush. The crisp skinned Lamb Kebbeh and Spinach Fatayar delights, followed by the hearty and nourishing Yellow Lentil soup.
THE SWEET BOND OF IFTAR
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph and you’ll see how the Iftar dinner brings together all nationalities. Ofcourse, the family Sapti (baby Sapti included) are getting set for Ramadan, as is Ahzar. From South of England there is the dynamic General manager James Reeves, from Italy, the gifted Executive Chef David Prantera , India is represented by the talented Chef Anoop and the lovely Karishma Chopra. And wow!
what an amazing feast of Ramadan sweets there is: love the Mafourkeh of toasted bread drizzled with milkfat kashta. Equally delightful is the baked filo pastry with pista and ghee, its called Znoud, which means “lady’s forearm”. Chef Ali Hasan guides me thru this yummy buffet and the baked Omali made of velvety milk and airy puff pastry infused with rose water and blossom water is addictive. Cant get enough of the Kataif pancakes plump with creamy kashta and crunchy with nuts. After that sweet finale, I sit by the rolling Polo fields under the shimmering night sky and go hubble bubble on the tobacco-free peach flavored sheesha.
Here it is. Just in time for Iftar, Chef Panteras very special recipe…
1 KG lamb leg with bone / or boneless
200 gms plain yogurt
200 gms red onion half sliced , half chopped
1 eggs egg white , beaten with a fork untill frothy
25 gms corn flour
50 gms clarified butter
50 gms pine nuts
50 gms slivered almonds
15 gms water
freshly ground pepper
10 gms turmeric powder
10 gms all spice
10 gms cinnamon stick
400 gms basmati rice
10 gms cardomom seeds
10 gms bayleaf
50 gms ghee
3 gms dry
3 gms cinnamon powder
½ ltr lamb stock
1.Place the yogurt in a thick heavy based pot , add beaten frothy egg , corn flour , salt to the pan .Blend gently with a wooden laddle .
2 . Place the pot over a medium heat , stir with a a wooden laddle , lower the heat as the yogurt can split .
3.Lower the heat and gently let it simmer .
4.Boil the lamb in a pot with Water , bayleaf , cinnamon stick , cardamom , turmeric powder, salt to season .
5.Skim the surface for froth the while the lamb is boiling
6.Heat ghee in a frying pan and add pinenuts , almonds .fry untill golden brown , remove and keep aside .
7.Add sliced red onion to the same pan with ghee and fry gently untill transparent . add turmeric powder , all spice powder , cinnamon stick and mix and saute well .
8.Add the boiled lamb with this spice mixture with the stock .
9. When the lamb is done , remove and shredd the meat with a fork from the bone .
10. Reduce the sauce more and add yogurt sauce , blend well with wooden laddle , let the mixture boil , add the the shredded lamb and reduce the sauce more .
9.After the lamb has been cooked , keep reducing until the sauce thickens .
10.Heat the clarified butter in a pot and saute cinnamon stick , bayleaf , dry lemon ,chopped onion, minced lamb, add soaked basmati rice and add lambstock and let the rice cook ,add cinnamon powder when the rice is boiling .
11.Once the rice is cooked , serve on a large round serving platter , then garnish with fried nuts .
12.Top the platter with the shredded lamb and mansaf sauce , fried nuts .
DESSERT MAKERS (WHO WORK OUT OF HOME)
I am very khush! Have discovered amazing home baking talent. Here are some of the results of my latest #whatshottastingsession.
HERES HOW I DID IT
Anyone who bakes professionally out of home can take part. For the past 20 years, I have been regularly conducting these sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent and to include the talented ones in The Times Food Guide.
I was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited 21 dessert makers (and 6 gourmet tasters) to the centrally located, evergreen Gaylord with Noel and Robert being ever helpful.
LOOK WHO’S BAKING
Passion powers these talented women, some have switched careers, others moonlight. From strategic global account manager, engineer, fashion stylist, product manager to CA, doctor, recruitment firm director and architect. Many are professionally trained too. From popcorn cupcakes to gluten free treats…they do it all. Please excuse my sketchy writing…to get full details you’ll have to wait for the Times Food Guide 2015
Sugarfree , gluten free and healthy desserts from Charvi Bubna’s “cheat clean” (Try her brown rice flour and honey brownies. 9820934080)
Eggless expert Shailee anklesaria’s “Sugar fairy” makes cakes et al, super oatmeal cookies (9820246367)
Egg and gelatin-free “Choco kisses” from Kairvi mehta and jayshri Mehta (9820029065)
Tara kapur’s “bombay bizarre baker” (9820006440) caters to all those with food allergies. Go for gluten free almond cake,
“Charlene and the chocolate factory” (9833258908)
Charlene Vaz specializes in truffles and chocolates with an indian twist.
Yummy Japanese chocolates by
Varsha kalani’s “okashi” 9833505747
Call “the dessert table” (9867385908) Delafruz tangri and Jalpa timbadia for super customized desserts with matching crockery and cutlery. Must try Chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.
Shillpa Bhambri is the only exception, she’s been featured since my first book (1997), her latest fusion cupcake was a hot seller (Cakeline 9619559433
Hand painted cakes and more by Jahan bloch ‘s “chic confections” (9930704646).
Dimple sanghvi’s “the mad batter” . candy castle cupcakes , glitterati cookie tower (961911760)
Egg and gelatin free desserts in jars by Innovative Nishita Kamdar ‘s “JAR designs” ( try paan velvet 9819365658)
Internationally trained Shikha Murarka’s “MishMash” s (9819766027) sugar and fondant work ( popcorn cupcakes, a handbag cake) were delicious.
Mango yoghurt cheesecake, red velvet cookies were Shanaz Barodawalla’s signature “sweet flavours” ( 9890453087)”Knead with love” s Richa Lulla’s (9833480814)
Umehani rangwala’s “lovecrumbs” caters to all your cake needs (8108429266)Try Witty meha Agarwal’s “the big apple baking co”’s orange cream. 9833015376″My butter half” by yeshi chaudhary ‘s red velvet was yum. 9769299795
Thanks foodies extraordinaire for tasting, eating, tweeting… Urvika kanoi ( professional chef who helped coordinate this tasting session.) Vasudha kejriwal ( marketing manager) Dinesh bahrani ( Head chef at Boveda)
Kritika dayal ( at a leading magazine firm)
Ronak Rajani ( social media marketer)
Rishab verma- (LCB trained pastry chef )
WITH SHUKRAAN FROM DUBAI
A million thanks for all your Eating-out advice in Dubai (on instagram and twitter.) Will be conducting more #whatshottastingsessions as soon as I return. If interested please contact, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh firstname.lastname@example.org
Global progressive Indian
I’m in Juhu’s new Spare Kitchen and I’m rejoicing. Not only is it a worth-eating-in restaurant but I’m also lunching here with three foodies who I’d never met before (except over instagram @cherryred_22 and twitter). Hailing from a well-traveled family, not only is the talented Anju Agarwal’s cooking superb and popular with Ruchi, (her vivacious daughter, studying medicine) and the bubbly Gauri (in 10th grade) but her blog is well-loved too. We eat our way through the multi cuisine menu, I enjoy every moment of my lunch with the bubbly threesome, hearing about their idli cupcakes to their herb garden on the rooftop of their 8 floor bungalow.
Drive into Juhu’s King hotel’s side entrance and walk into this large 5000 sq ft Spare Kitchen ( for sure it’s much more than a kitchen,) it has an outdoor area (woodfired pizza oven here) a lounge, an open bar and a Private dining too.
Brick walls, dark wood tables flat screen TV s complete the décor. At night, the haze of dramatic blue light enlivens the restaurant.
Comfort food with a twist.Please take a look at the photo, Ruchi is holding up the “Bruschetta two ways” which distils the freshness and flavor of tomatoes on toast and gazpacho in a shot glass too. The gifted young partners chef Rakesh. Ricky and Gaurav ensure that many a dish tells a story through it’s ingredients and presentation. Happily, taste and flavor keep pace with the story (except in some dishes). And though it is a mish mash of a menu with Indian starters and mains, plus pastas, burgers, pizzas and European fare, it still works. Must trys? Succulent kababs, be it the tenderfirm and unerringly spiced chicken seekh sesame, coriander crusted chicken tikka or the Dual Paneer tikka 2 ways ( sundried tomato and and basil pesto.I Bombay’s better butter chicken (makhanwala lightly done with Italian tomatoes, sans cream) is flavorsome and the beer batter fried fish and chips and pizzas delicious too. But the magic is created by the Chemistry of mango dessert a charmed wedding of tangy kachi kairi jelly with the spike of aam ras, mango cheesecake with chocolate fudge.An equally mega voltage chocoholics dream come true is the Chocolate ecstasy (rendered in 5 textures and temperatures) from the simple chocolate tart, to cutting chai with an edible chocolate spoon .
While the presentation of the Chowpatty TSK platter (Bhel vada pao, pao bhaji pani puri shot) is brilliant the flavors lag behind. Ditto for the concept of the “nizzas” naan-pizza ends up falling flat. Lackluster chowder (though authentically served in a bread bowl) is lackluster as does the
Malabari Lamb perched atop tiny uttapam discs.Superb desserts, but strawberry rasmalai cheesecake,? Skip it, and take a pass as well on the gelatinous greentea panacotta.
MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT
The Spare Kitchen has (finally) managed to break the jinx ( three predecessor restaurants in this venue met an untimely end). Ever since it opened, nine months ago, it has been magnetizing regulars and Bollywood too with it’s choice of progressive Indian, pasta, pizza, burger kind of fare served through the day (Rs 1500, Meal for 2) Sure it has its share of flaws, but food’s the center of a meal, so you’ll be served a final balance of basic satisfaction and innovative presentation. Comfort food with a spin. A welcome one!
P.S Feedback (@krishpatel689…”awesome) @stuffednstarved @noturpapa whats yours?
THE SPARE KITCHEN Kings International Hotel compound, ground floor, Juhu Tara road, opposite Juhu church, Ph 65893333,
Open noon to 1 am.
Rs 1500 for a meal for two
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
WHATS HOT TASTING SESSIONS BEGIN
I am on the lookout for home bakers and caterers to include in your very own Times Food guide 2015. Overwhelmed with your fabulous response. This years first “Whats Hot Tasting session” was held yesterday. Should you be interested please email email@example.com, tweet or instagram (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours