I’m so excited. New, spicy, foodie finds. Now, I know what Columbus mustve felt like. Except that he, the compulsive explorer did not have the benefit of Twitter. Like I do. Heres how I went on my voyage of discovery: I tweetrequested for recommendations of “cheap and cheerful eateries”. Fabulous response (wish I could thank each one here). Shortlisted a few in the Mahim-Dadar area. Invited three twitter buddies. @CulinaryMuse1 turned out to be the lovely Sunayan Shahani in pearls, foodblogger communicatns consultant and student. Knowledgable Parag Chaphekar marketing professional chucked up his succesful consultancy and is an aspiring restaurantowner. Rushing straight to the golf course (my mecca too) was foodie extraordinaire and ace golfer, Krishna Kilachand, he wanted to serve up the gourmet burger to Mumbai so set up “Burg”. We went on a whirlwind tasting tour of cheap and cheerful joints. We call it our #tweefoodeecrawl. Many more are planned. Be my guest…Twitter handle @rashmiudaysingh mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simple and simply superb, also cluttered, no frills and functional eatery from Kerala. Hot and uncomfy (inspite of the brown fans whirring overhead) we still walloped the lustily spiced Beef fry and beef biryani (beef is called sukha mutton on the menu) Equally delicious was the Mutton masala fry. While the veg stew and appams, soybean masala and the Kappa (tapioca) biryani were okayish the thin flavorsome fish curry rice was amazing. And Abraham the waiter (please see photo) charmed us. Idli dosa served at breakfast. Thalis too. After our restaurant round, I went back at 4pm to taste the banana fritters (these are served only at tea. Thanks @ebubblewrapped for this tip off) plump soft and crisp with golden batter. Steamed sweet panpoli too. Veggies stay away.
Shiv Sagar Society, Opp Paradise Cinema, Mahim (2445 6330). Meal for two Rs 250
Daily 6-11pm. No alcohol. No credit cards.
RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 1
SAIBINI GOMANTAK (Gomantak)
Avoidable even though airconditioned, etched glass paintings et al in this small Gomantak eatery. We pecked at lackluster Mori Masala, tisrya and more picked out of a menu with chicken moghlai, paneer tikka and what not. Oh yes the wade were crisp and good.
Katrada Mansion, Gokhale Road, Dadar WestTel: 24328065, 24385429
Open lunch and dinner. Meal for two Rs 400, credit cards accepted.
RATING FOOD 2 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 3
Packed and getting more packed. We stood in the snaking line outside the simple blue table and bench hallowed home of Maharashtrian food. Till a friendly bloke gave me a tip off, “ in hurry ? order parcel”. We did just that and in the car bit into the iconic piping hot sabudana vada crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Theres poha, thalipith, batata vada and more. Somewhat greasy but great.
Shiv Sena Bhavan, Next to Kithe Hall, Gokhale Road, Dadar West, Tel: 24304921
Open 7.30 am to 9.30 pm. No credit cards. Meal for two Rs 150
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 2
Amazing home made jackfruit icecream, flavorsome peru sherbet, robustly spiced chicken shagoti, shimply masala, oyster masala, greasy but good bombils in this tiny two and a half table malwani eatery. Owner chef, Surekha Walke and daughter Saili bustle around and point out that their Dadar eatery (4, Shivaji Park House, L.J. Road) is moving to Prabhadevi. Am adding their new address. Please call and check.
Prabhadevi near sahkari bazaar of agar bazaar. Chinch bhat chawl 24372242.
11 to 3pm 7 to 11pm Av meal for 2 Rs 500
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 2.5
On the same street is the tiny biryani and kakori joint whose takeaway has been my favorite. I first feasted on Ishtiyaque Qureshis (the son of the legendary Mohammed Imtiaz Qureshi of Dum Pukht and Bukhara fame), entire repertoire at Karishma Kapoor’s wedding lunch . Softest Kakori kabab. melt in the mouth galoti , Nihari Gosht and biryani are the stars here. Veg Sabz galawati kabab moist and dense with flavor recommended too.
L J Road, opp Paradise cinema, Mahim ph 65229211 open 11am to midnight.
Takeaway call 9320090269/
FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 2.5
P.S. Further down from Prakash is DATTATRYA (slow indifferent service in this Maharashtrian eatery serving a mish mash of South Indian, Punjabi, Chinese. Humdrum thali (Rs 75) val and kothimbir vadi good.
Nearer the Mahim church , is the bustling, messy and popular PARAMOUNT ( Id shared a table with taxi drivers earlier) Flavorsome mutton rashida and greasy Butter chicken and kheema are above average . Open from 6am to midnight.
It’s a record. Two “first time evers” took place while reviewing Palladium hotel’s much awaited “Mekong” which opened some months ago. I ate the first-meal on the first-day they opened (something I never do). But did so, because two globally acknowledged superstar chefs were in town. Id eaten in Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatias London restaurant and tripped out on his reinterpreted traditional Indian classics. Not only been blown by Bangkok based Gaggan Anand’s masterly use of molecular gastronomy in his progressive Indian cuisine but recently also cheered him for making it to the AsiasTop 50 restaurants in Singapore. It was at this lunch that Gaggan Anand met his hero Vineet Bhatia for the first time. Vineet jetsets between his restaurants in ten cities, writes books and does TV shows.
” Yaar, Vineet is a pioneer. He has inspired me” gushes Gaggan as the stud in his ear glints as he leans forward to hug the senior chef. The wine authority and witty Sanjay Menon joins us but prefers to be incognito. The afternoon sparkles with their joie de vivre. Unfortunately this joy does not extend to the food as well.
Could it be teething troubles? So I ate four more times (paid through my nose). Except for a minor tweaking, my review remains the same.
Feast on the spectacularly dramatic 37th floor view (let in by the magnificent glass windows) of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse and the sea. Happily, the theatricality here doesn’t go over the top. In this sprawling restaurant, large lamps, wine walls and Oriental artifacts seem as authentic as they are flashy. The lighting is subtle yet bright.
Like the name (Mekong, named after the river) the good-looking menu meanders through Vietnam, China and Thailand but it meanders too much and so confuses and makes decision
making difficult. At each meal, the starters score over the mains. Tangy, sweet salads (Pomelo, Raw Papaya), a variety of plump dim sum (great at one meal and not so at another) and deep-fried Vietnamese rolls. Traditional Thai soups, Tom Kha Gai and homestyle Tom Yum delight. Plenty of choice for veggies, robustly spiced Ma La-style Chicken, vegetables, prawns in XO Sauce are the plus points.
Mekong’s kitchen has ample skill. It just doesn’t have nearly enough discipline. In many entrees, the meat or fish is so modestly portioned, overcooked or just plain dull that no measure or mingling of seasonings save it. Mekong’s Steamed Fish is overcooked, the calibration of some dips, sauces and soups not quite right. Noodles with Seafood and Lamb in Yellow Bean are ordinary. As are the desserts. Vietnamese Pho Bo is conspicuous by its absence (though there is a Vietnamese noodle soup) Spring Rolls lack the refreshing crunch of vegetables. Music from the neighboring bar is loud and intrusive.
We go there expecting a lot. We go to celebrate the sweet heat of and perfumes and flavors of Thailand, Vietnam and China ’s cooking and come away with mixed feelings.
On my fourth (most recent meal,) there was marginal improvement in some of the dishes. Also some of the dish-prices had been tweaked downwards, others hiked upwards. A new dimsum chef was in place and new desserts were expected. Attentive service, well stocked bar.
Sure! Mekong is
located sky-high (literally) with prices to match, now if only the food would keep pace.
■ Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Ph: 61628422
12.30pm to 3pm, 7.30pm to 11.30pm
Food-3.50 | Service-3.50 | Décor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`6000
EATOUT WITH ME
Im traveling all month, but waiting to be back in town and invite you to eat out with me all you amazingly well informed foodies who have been tweeting fabulous recommendations for #cheapandcheerful eateries. Wish I could thank each and everyone of you, but I cant (space constraint), so here are a few regular responders, the tummy tales @elsonsequeira @RassiBomb @joymanavath @ChandniT @kneadwithlove @DebySharma @pratishthakhan @AjitBalgi @ScrollsNink @doughmydear@akzey@ChantChameli. All of you, please do keep mailing your recommendations (email@example.com) and tweeting and instagramming them @rashmiudaysingh
GREAT FOOD NEWS
Our very own Indian restaurant, Amaya in London has made it to the Daily Mail’s Worlds Top 100 restaurant list. Congratulations Camellia and Namita Panjabi. and Ranjit Mathrani. You make India proud.
Surprises ahead! I confess, I am very surprised myself too. Here I am, a regular at the haute temples of gastronomy, a worshipper at the masterly great restaurants of the world. I preside over several global jurys for awarding great restaurants and having eaten my way through 34 food books would go to the ends of the world for sublime food that has the firm grasp of the art and science of cooking. And here I am actually admiring and going over the moon for food that is not even cooked, but is mostly raw (you read that right). And yet it seduces not only my tastebuds but also my eyes. And heres the bonus: it is bursting with energy and goodness and not only kickstarts my system into high energy but also calms my mind and makes me smile.
Welcome to paradise! Here sense-pampering is in erotic union with holistic health, here taste and flavor burst with nutrition and healing. It is from here that I’m mailing you this great news
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph that I just shot. Before I tell you more about it, all I can say is that if it had a video track you’d be able to hear the peacocks (they preen all over the 50 hectares of lush land) the chirping birds, the soft breeze. But what you can see is the ever-smiling chef Lucrecia Buking holding up the most delicious “Beet Canneloni“ and pecan dessert . The dapper Michael di Lonardo who helms The Farm in San Benito (its two hours away from Manila) smiles with Mishi ( his Lhasa Apso mix from Lonavala). Actually Michael being a brilliant chef himself (having worked with great chefs in Los Angeles and had the Hollywood stars eating out of his hands) also has plenty to do with the gourmet fare here. He is also driven by the conviction that “the farmer is the star’ and it’s the “quality of the soil and the organic produce that make great food”. Having worked three years in India (and loved it) Michael feels very strongly that “India should go against genetically modified food and Monsanto.”
And so here at this holistic healing and wellness mecca where mind, body and spirit get balanced, all the vegetables are organically grown within the Farm area. As are all the healing herbs. So much so that even the virgin coconut oil, the coconut water we drink is all from their own plantations. “From the farm to the table” is a delicious visible reality here. And creating amazing dishes is the chef and her team.
She was detected with third stage breast cancer three years ago and given six months to live. Today, Chef Lucrecia is not only fit and healthy but also weaving magic in the kitchen. She herself is living proof of the principles The Farm is rooted in, that all health stems from the gut and looking after and nurturing it with live foods will restore harmony and health.
Having learnt the fundamentals from the Living lights culinary arts school in San Francisco, she ensures that more than 85% of her food is raw (grains are soaked, seeds are sprouted, vegetables soaked in apple cider vinegar) and even the rest is very lightly cooked. “Raw food preserves the antioxidants and nutrients” she points out. no oil. No cooking, no sugar, no preservatives and yet bursting with taste and variety and color and flavor. Gastronomy redefined.
P.S. Theres plenty more to The Farm than this life giving cuisine, detoxing and recharging…I’m still here but already planning my next visit…saving up all my earnings (like I did for this time too)… it’s the best investment ever.
THE FARMS RECIPE
Try it. Its so simple, just chopping, slicing, soaking, mixing, processing and assembling. A visual and tasty and nutritional treat.
Red Beet Cannelloni
5 red Beet thinly sliced
For the “almond or pista cheese”
Tsp olive oil/ Cup almonds or pistachio nuts (soaked and peeled / Sea salt, Lemon, White pepper/ Tsp Nutritional Yeast (if unavailable then use miso paste / Tsp onion Powder
/ Tsp Tarragon leaves Chopped /½ Cup red Onion ( minced)/ ¼ Cup Chives (chopped)
For the “cashew sauce”
1 cup cashew nts/ 1 cup pine nuts/ 1 cup water/ 1 tsp hone/ ½ cup lemon juice/ 2 cloves garlic/ 1 tsp salt/ ½ tsp white pepper/ 2 tbsp fresh dill.
Put all these ingredients (except dill) in a blender until creamy. Add water if needed. You can use this sauce on any dish.
Slice and Marinate the red beet and set it aside. For the “cheese” put in a food Processer all the ingredients for the cheese. Keep “cheese” for a few hours before filling the beet slices with the “ almond cheese” and asparagus. Roll it up. Drizzle with cashew sauce. Enjoy
Presenting the latest edition of our “Whats hot Tasting session”. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph which I shot. You are looking at Chennai’s Foodie entrepreneurs, home-bakers many of who have recently entered the food scene. I flew down from Mumbai to Chennai for this “Whats hot Tasting session” and also for shooting the jury episodes of “Times Now’s Foodie” show. Sure! The TV shoot in a local and also high-end restaurant was interesting, but meeting this home-talent was even more engrossing.
All made in home kitchens…from baklava to masalas, from health bars to traditional Indian mithai. I will be writing about each one in detail later on, meanwhile, here’s a quick look…
MIND OVER BATTER
“Mind over batter” is the name of Aarti Rajkumar’s designer cake studio where her Belgian chocolate dream and Banofee pies are lovingly baked. Nahla Fathima, conducts H & H Gourmet classes and is known for the Red Velvet and chocolate hazelnut ecstasy she bakes. Gazeena Sulu’s “Sweet life from Sulu’s kitchen” makes “Patterned jaconde” and other desserts. Innovative and creative, Deepasri Kar ‘s cupcakes and mousses created with palm jaggery (the seasonal, winter gur) are a delight.
BAKLAVA, BADAM KE LOAZ TO HEALTH BARS
Looking for home-made Baklava? M Ayesha Ruhi is your answer. Azra Zafar specializes in traditional, home made mithai be it Ande ki Piyosi or Bread ka halwa and badam ke loaz. Balancing these with healthful, organic fare is Sadia Gibran, who specializes in Splendid health mixes, Oats and Prunes bar, low fat date and walnut cake and more.
Azeema Shahul makes
Wheat muffins, chocolate truffle balls and many a homemade dessert, cakes & chocolates, in a customized designed packing.
BANKERS TURNED FOOD ENTREPRENEURS
Interestingly, two ladies in our “Whats hot tasting session” were successful bankers who are now delighting the Foodie world. Anisa Arif (who Id actually met in her Stanchart days) is now creating a range of the most innovative and amazing masalas you can buy online, be it Sindhi Biryani masala or the Arabic barbecue mix and more. After ten years in the banking line Gulnaz Ali turned to baking. Orange and almond cake, hazelnut cake and more.
Joining me for our “Whats hot tasting session” is the brilliant Senior Executive Chef Ajit Bangera of the ITC Grand Chola which has been making waves since it opened mid 2012. We conduct our Tasting session in this sprawling palatial hotel that pays homage to the great dynasty of the Cholas who nurtured Tamil Nadu’s golden age.All ten of it’s iconic restaurants are being helmed by Chef Bangera. This includes their brand new Italian restaurant, their cute deli contemporary shop “Nutmeg”.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Here’s how we have been helping over the years. Over a fortnight ago, I got a call from Pashupati who said his wife Annapurani was looking for cooking classes in Chennai and that he had read about my “foodonline” several years ago. So I invited Annapurani to our “Whats hot tasting session” and introduced her around, so her queries were answered. Should you have any food or food service related questions, please do email
DO YOU WANT TO JOIN US?
Would you like to be featured here? Are you a home-entreprenuer? Please email (firstname.lastname@example.org, Anjalisharma966@gmail.com) call (09884065010) tweet, instagram, (@rashmiudaysingh) FB. Anjali Sharma will get in touch with you and invite you to our next “Whats hot tasting session”. Looking forward to hearing from you. Waitingly yours.
P.S. Watch this space (every other Friday) for more on each of the home-entrepreneurs featured above.
I’m rejoicing. Countless new restaurants are opening up and their baby steps are being dissected by even more countless food bloggers, twitterati, instagrammers and more. It’s a good sign that we are truly involved with our food. It was not like this when I started writing about food thirty years ago. Then food writing was considered unfashionable. Thankfully, things are getting better.
“Wont you take me to honky taoooownnnn” blares as I walk into the first floor of this small heritage building (built by a French architect), nudged right next to Sterling cinema. I walk past the ground floor café area into the charming, high-ceilinged, wooden-beamed, tiny, dimly-lit, olive green-walled bar with posters.
Townhouse Café doesn’t encourage you to take mincing bites of measured portions. It exhorts you to dig in to it’s comfort food. To crunch into it’s perfectly deep-fried dishes (great accompaniments to alcohol) be it the Golden Fried Panko Crusted Mushrooms or the bucket of deep fried squid and prawns. Plenty of pasta dishes, half the menu is vegetarian (do ask for the well-made Scallion Crepes and Aubergine Red Pepper Sandwich). While leaving, I bump into owner Anuja Jatkar and her foodie passion and that of her young team shines through, two particularly good fish dishes – the Fish and Chips Burger (crispy fish patty, velvetty tartar sauce within soft buns) and Perfectly Grilled Basa (lemony buttery sauce). Okayish brownie with ice-cream. Go to tipple, imported draughts and interesting cocktails (try fresh coconut water mojito). Check the happy hours.
Only one dessert on menu. Some dishes on menu are not available. No pork belly or pork belly sliders available. Scrambled truffled eggs are soggy and not enough truffle oil.
I was happily surprised by the charming European Townhouse ambiance and comfort fare here.
Plenty of deep-fried comfort fare, but there’s a balance between heartiness and delicacy and plenty for vegetarians. Charming ambiance, comfort food at comforting prices. If in the vicinity, its the perfect open all day, neighbourhood bar.
Meal for two: RS 1,800 approx
16, Murzban Road, near Strerling Cinema, Fort.
Timings 12 pm – 1:30 am
Call 022-2203 7356
What a wonderful world. I repeat. What a wonderful, helpful and yummy world. I’d never met these young and brilliant food bloggers and yet on the basis of my SOS tweets and Instagrams, they came across gallantly to help me hitchhike into the alien galaxies and solar-systems of the internet et al.
EDDIES… AN EDDIFYING EXPERIENCE
Sorry for that cheap pun but my lunch in this new, small Bandra eatery was just that… eddyfying. The dynamic and articulate food bloggers Chandni, Pratishta, Anuja, Roxanne and Kumar (please read the Box, “My Tweet-hearts” ) patiently showed me not only the nitty gritties of tweeting and blogging and all that goes in between, but also shared their views on Eddies. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph, if it had a videotrack attached to it, here’s what you’d see… my charming guests with their cell-phones (of all shapes and sizes) taking photos of the dishes, me taking furious notes of all they advise, plenty of eating. So, what follows is a truly democratic restaurant review.
Airy, cheery, narrow and smallish. The blonde light wood and mirrored interiors give it a casual-comfy, all-day-dining bistro vibe. A couple of plasma screens complete the décor of the well-used small space.
We all agree that what comes out of the 26-year-old chef Nishant Mitra’s kitchen are attractively assembled dishes (dips and a dessert too served in cute cutting chai glasses) that will have diners (not just food bloggers) reaching for their cellphone cameras. What goes into his kitchen are fresh and good quality ingredients. The menu is divided into small plates and fat plates and once again we all agree that it’s the small plates that score over the mains, the burgers come out tops. Ask for the “Unbeetable beet burger” squishy firm with beet and cottage cheese as well as the perfectly juicy, moist with Harissa Mayo Mini Lamb Burger . Go for the refreshing Beetroot Carpaccio (perfectly dressed with caramelised apple vinaigrette), oven-baked discs of sweet potato made zesty with an emmental cheese and jalapeno sauce. Interesting Asian flavours peep through in the chicken plank with bok choy. We polish off the velvetty panacotta and the crazily addictive hazelnut torte. Bliss.
In some of the dishes, the flavour pallete wasn’t just bland but blurry, with not a single clear flavour coming into focus. Getting unanimous dislike votes were the gritty Polenta Fries (albeit with yummy goat cheese dips and tomato jam) and the stodgy Mac & Cheese Bites. Okayish Grilled Prawns (inconvenient in their shells) with the pineapple and wine sangaria dip, the strange marriage of the Russian Strogonoff and Italian Risotto (and the overcooked chicken) didn’t work. No valet parking.
Here it is. A truly democratic restaurant review. The acid test of a restaurant: will you go back? All my guests (except one) will surely do so. Me too. Unpretentious, casual, well-presented European (with a few Asian flavours too) “small” and “fat plates”, plenty for vegetarians, must-try burgers, some salads and superb desserts. Eddies serves up comfort with a bit of spin and a dash of international sophistication, comfort with a cheeky tweak.
Meal for two Rs 1,800 approx
Shop No. 6, Silver Croft Bldg,
16th and 33rd Road Junction,
Cheery. Stamp-sized. Crammed with five tables, open kitchen. Asian multicuisine menu and specials chalked onto the blackboard. A small alfresco area too.
Please notice the three bottles of “Chibs multipurpose sauces” in the photo. Turn up the spice levels of your food and buy them (Red chilly is the best at Rs 68) to take them home too. The star of Nikhil Chibs menu (the first to introduce it to Mumbai), is the velvety, coconutty Burmese Kaukswe, ladled on to either noodles or rice and sprinkled with crispy crunchy condiments and twist of lime.
Go for the meals in a bowl. Ask for the moist steamed crunchy Vegetarian Momos and Prawn Momos. The special of the day, the Bekti steamed fish sparkled with lemon is worth trying, as is the succulent, robustly spiced Korean Bulgogi. Go for the freshly squeezed “Make your own juice”, Nespresso coffee (served in a paper cup, Alas) too. Though not authentic the Bánh mì sandwich is tasty, filling and inexpensive.
Bland Thai curry, Madras curry powder-laden Cambodian curry are avoidable as is the Coconut nimbu pani laced with ginger and honey. Lacklustre Kungpao with peanuts. Hard crusted, oversweet Banoffee Pie. No alcohol.
Open through the day, VFM (average meal for 2, Rs 500. Home delivery too). Though some of the dishes are patchy the Kaukswe and Momos are worth trying. A welcome addition to buzzing Bandra.
Gaspar Enclave, Shop No 11, Pali Naka, Bandra West, 400050
Tel: 6127 8897
Open: 11:30am to 11:30pm
Rating: * Food: 3.5 * Service: 3.5 * Décor: 3
The world’s best restaurant” “El Celler can de Roca” and it is in Gerona,Spain. Viva Spain!
Learning how to use this big fat phone while driving to the beach…40 minutes away from Barcelona. Three Michelin starred restaurant. Woman chef. Watch this space…