Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Waltz In Matunga

Time out of office on a weekday is always fun. Even if you do have to get back to work eventually. It would be funner if the rest of the day was an unscheduled holiday, of course, but one makes do with what one gets.

So I find myself sauntering down a road that was probably desiged to be a nice, quiet side-street with colony gates opening into it but has metamorphosed instead. The road has grown up and now sees hourly traffic snarls, cars and cabs zooming and vrooming up and down and a bright neon multiplex thrusting itself in between the faded painted hoardings that came up about fifteen years ago (when the road was oh, about in its teens).

It’s scorching hot after a week of grey skies and incessant rain. Great, I left my sunglasses behind and carried my extra-heavy-duty rain protection gear instead, that’s making my otherwise ubercool bag bulge like a pillow. No matter I tell myself, in Matunga, nobody will mind.

No taxiwalla is willing to ferry me to the station and my stomach is starting to make itself (or its emptiness) felt so I pause, mid-traffic to think. If I were in Dadar, I’d pop in to sample some no-frills delicious Mahrashtrian cuisine. I spend a peaceful few seconds thinking about kokum sharbat, patra, shrikhand-puri and masale bath. The honking behind me jolts me out of my reverie so I rush on. Bandra and I would have stepped into any of the cafes, restaurants and hangouts I know so well. Town has its own delights. Even if Tea Center has ceased to function, there’s always Samrat where I’ve enjoyed many a solo lunch with the waiters dancing attendance. Yes, I know, I know that Gujjus don’t consider Samrat fare as ‘good food’ but like I said, one makes do with what one has.

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Live In Chawls, No Delivery for you.

As Mumbai grows in economic power and the culture of consumerism and consumption takes place, there are bound to be some downsides. One of them is the class society syndrome, whereby you are judged by where you live. In a sting operation by Mid-Day, they found that a lot of the fast food chains would not deliver to chawls.

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Sunday MiD DAY: When I am paying for my order, why do you refuse to deliver? Is it only because I live in a chawl?

Dominos at Colaba: Sorry sir, it’s our company policy.

Of course when the head honchos at Dominos corporate land are questioned, one gets the corpo-bullspeak that is only taught at MBA schools.

Chief Executive Officer of Domino’s Pizza India Ltd, Ajay Kaul told Sunday MiD DAY “We do not differentiate between our customers. All customers are equally important to us. It’s untrue that we don’t deliver to chawls as a policy.”

“Since we are a delivery company that offers a guarantee of delivery in “30 minutes or free”, we have certain policies that help us keep up with this promise to our customers. We deliver in a pre-defined delivery area, which excludes locations that take more than 10 minutes to locate and deliver”

Dominos and McDonalds, that sucks. Lets see you do that to an address in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, NY.

The good old Irani cafes in the city

Mumbai has a fast life; the rush hour, the 8.40am local, peak time, fast train, all a part of the fast life; so much so that people are mechanically tuned to be fast and furious (I guess its fitting to say so). In this fast pace, city people rarely have the time to stop and smell the flowers. As much as I love the city and its fast pace sometimes I like to take it slow and steady. A long walk, a short hike, visiting a gallery, some retail therapy are some breather activities for me. Irani cafes are one such other places where life can be experienced in slow motion even now. Some dingy and some well-maintained, almost all of them have marble-top tables with black wooden chairs. They serve steaming glasses of chai and melting maska (butter) with a sprinkling of sugar on the brun (bun). At the counter is the keen gaze of the cotton-shirted Irani owner. Nearby are glass-fronted shelves of khara biscuits, cakes and brun that you are supposed to dunk in your tea for that authentic flavor. The yummylicious kheema pav with a thick layer of oil floating over it sure beats the sophisticated five star buffets where I literally spend a small fortune of my monthly income. These cafes not only get me a bit nostalgic about the good old days when I was new to the city but also are very cost effective and go easy on the pocket. There are times when I literally have a craving for that tea with the distinctive taste/flavor which can only be found in Iranian chais, and I make no efforts to fight it.
Unfortunately these Iranian Cafes are going through a silent death and soon they will be extinct. With the new generations’ craze for coffee shops and fine dining, today there are just a handful of them left in the city. Sadly Iranian cafes are on their way to become something of the past which will only be mentioned in articles about the good old days of the city.
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Mumbai Bloggy Brunch

Agreed, this is on a short notice but believe me life is not all about blogging and fun. So yeah, it’s actually a favor that Melody and I are doing for you folks. Now stop gawking, you know it’s the truth.

Okay…Okay, on a more serious note this time round we have decided to go with the Brunch Theme (yes, so very innovative) – slightly on the higher side entry fee wise but hey, nothing’s really cheap re these days.

The invite basically says it all – yup, will be super cool if you could make it. And please confirm with us if you are seriously going to make, it makes life a hell lot easier.

Ps…would be super duper cool if you could let others know about it via your own blog/s. Thanks and looking forward to meeting the bloggy bunch soon.

Previous blog meet gupshups can be found here.

7 Mumbai Eats

Mumbai gets as good at it is in being a foodie town. However there are some things that are so uniquely Bombay-ish that they don’t taste the same anywhere else…or come out as poor imitations in other cities.

The following is a list of Eats that are truly Mumbaikerish. Not to be mistaken with 7 Eating places which will follow in the week ahead.

1) Vada Pav

The poor man’s snack. Potato Patty pressed in the middle of bread with chutney/sauce. As simple as it can get. Bang for the buck. Perfect pick up and go food. Found at nearly every street corner. Bombay’s answer to the New York Hot Dog. Should be had piping hot at a roadside vendor only. Never eat in a restaurant…its a fake if its served in a restaurant

2) Bhel

Mix some rice puffs with sev, onions, potatoes, teekha and meetha chutney add some crushed poori’s and lo and behold you have the Bhel. World over its called Bombay Bhel, here is is just bhel. Its many cousins include Sev Puri, Dahi Batata Puri, Pani Puri et al. A perfectly sumptious vegetarian snack. Can never go wrong. Has to be had freshly mixed, preferably at the stall. Definitely tastes better at a roadside hawker than in a posh restaurant.

3) Sheekh Kebab

Perfectly skewered and grilled pieces of meat cut in small bite sized botis. Its various cousins include the longer sheekh kebabs, khiri, kaleji, gurda, and in some cases chicken too. Tastes best when fresh off the charcoal grill. Onions and nimbu sprinkled over with green chutney makes it a wonderful evening/night snack. Enhances the taste and experience of alcoholic drinks

4) Roadside Chinese

Hungry Eyes, Dragon of China, Hunan Emperor, China King, are just some of the flashier names of chinese tapris all over the cities. The food is cooked only when u order it and the speed at which it is cooked is a sight to behold. Not the tastiest of meals but then everything tastes good when it is hot. Sweet corn chicken soup and Half Manchurian rice are the prize winners though lollipops come a close second best.

5) Pav Bhaji

The one dish that had north Indian origins and was bastardized by the cooks of Bombay. Its now better than the original…whatever it was. A medley of veggies mixed with tomatoes have the shits beaten out of them. They are pulverized into a puree like texture and with spices make up an amazing meal. Has to be had with a slice of butter (diet be damned) and sliced onions and oil fried in butter. If your hands aint oily, you aint eating it correctly.

6) Mewad Ice Cream

There are the Naturels and the Gokuls of the city but nothing beats the simple taste of Mewad Ice Cream and Fruit Salad. Be it Anjeer Draksh, Badam Pista, or the full or half fruit salad with icecream, nothing ever tasted better. Still at Rs 5, it gives a fantastic value for money taste.

7) Pepsi Cola, Gola, Sherbet

Pepsi Cola here is not the coke rival I am talking about. Its the long thin tube of plastic containing frozen ice in different flavors. There are milk varieties too. It was staple food in my childhood and I dare say it still is. So is the ice golawala and the sherbet he makes. One has to try the tiranga….or the tricolor gola there and show their patriotism.

So now as your mouth is watering….what are your 7 favorite Mumbai Eats ?

Union Budget 2007-08

The most endearing announcement Shri Chidambaram made on his budget speech is that price of pet food is down. Cats and dogs would be mighty grateful though how they can repay their gratitude to the Finance Minister’s party, beats me.

So the Golden question is Is the Union Budget 2007-08 people friendly?

An Unusal Combo

The French usually like to have a sip or two with their meals, so much so that with Wine a French delicay wuould be almost incomplete. But how about some wine with our udipid speacialites like dosa or idlis… Although a weird combinaition, there are a few restarants in the city who are stocking up Chateau Indage wines to be served along with crip rava dosa and soft steaming idlis..

It might sound unbelievable but isn’t when you consider that Shivsagar has been stocking an entire range of Chateau Indage wines since December 2005. They’re also pretty happy about the fact that the dosa-wine combination is as hot as their steaming idlis among their patrons.
At Woodside Inn you can enjoy a wine and South Indian food combo. At Chetana, Kala Ghoda, wine is served with Gujarati and Rajasthani thalis. At Vitthal’s you can dig into spicy bhelpuri and ragda pattice with wine. Choughule however has more on his mind, “I think our wines can be had with Jafferbhai’s biryani too Read more

So this weekend almost at the eve of the new year you want to put together an unusal lunch for your loved one this seems like a out of the world idea.. Happy New Year!

Review Hard Rock Cafe : Not so Rocking!

Finally after a week loaded with office work, I managed to indulge myself in an atmosphere filled with cigarette smoke and alcohol smell.

Went out on Saturday night with some known friends and some newly acquaintances to India’s very first Hard Rock Cafe. Located in one of the old-ages estate, the Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, South Mumbai side. This world famous joint was opened sometime in September this year but had closed down for couple of weeks due some legal issues. However the place is now open to the Mumbai public in full swing.

Melody (The Voice In My Head) who happens to be one of those “party-till-I-die kinda women” and who was also a BIG part of my outing that evening, has put up her views of the place along with some dark but visible pictures.

“The music is great, the crowd is decent & the ambience, well, it is a Hard Rock Cafe! There are all the necessary rock star paraphernalia that goes with the HRC name – the autographed guitars, the crazy outfits (I saw a nice one belonging to the artist formerly know as Prince), the photographs, the trivia. I love it, I love it, I love it. Yes, in case you didn’t get it, I really love it.”

Though I agree with the whole music and ambience bit, I still wouldn’t say that it’s THE place to be on a Saturday night. And No! It’s got nothing to do with the company I was hanging out with.

See, the thing is for me besides good music and ambience; I need good food and plenty of alcohol. So even though Mumbai’s Hard Rock Cafe flaunts about good music, decent crowd and spacious look – sadly, it totally sucks in service.

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Gift # 5: Food: Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji and Bhel

Over the past few days Metroblogging cities have been posting about unique gifts that their city has given to the world. This is in the spirit of the holiday season and gift-giving which ensues in most parts of the world. In the same vein, we start our series. The countdown will go in reverse till we reach Gift #1. Note that they are not in any priority of importance, rather just gifts that India’s greatest city has to offer. Earlier posts are here

Food is a way of life in Bombay and defines the city to a very large extent. Bombay food specialities are renowned the world over and have become gastronomic icons in their own rights.

The three unique food items listed below will gauranteed bring pangs of hunger to your stomach and saliva gushing in your mouth. Your brain cells will play food havoc, and you will need to eat a Vada Pav, some Bhel and Pav Bhaji.

Vada Pav is the poor man’s food. In its most fundamental sense it is an potato burger. But the very simplicity of the dish makes it so legendary. It is sold at roadside stalls all over the city. The best vada pav is had at the street side and not in some fancy restaurant. Trying to select the best vada pav stall in Bombay will create tension amongst friends and family. For me the favorite one is outside Hindu Colony. The size of the vada is big and comes with soft pav and amazing chutney. The most over hyped vada pav is (was??) the one outside Mithibai College. And the best kept secret is the vada pav stall at the corner of your street !!

Here is a good vada pav recipe.

Vada Pav on Wikipedia

Pav Bhaji rivals the vada pav in a truly Bambaiya flavour like no other dish. Not found as commonly on the street side, it is still nevertheless a complete Bombay creation.

Veggies and potatoes are mashed together literally on a flat metal tava and mixed with tomato puree and spices. It is served with oodles of butter on it and bread that has been pan fried in butter. With lemon and onions it will make your taste buds do the lambada.!!

As Wikipedia informs

The origin of this dish is traced to the heyday of the textile mills in Mumbai. The mill workers used to have a short break for lunch. A full lunch which was not rushed probably needed more time than what was available. A light lunch was also preferred given that physical work followed immediately. A vendor understood this and came up with this dish using items or parts of them available on the menu. The role of Indian bread or rice was taken up by pav and the curries that usually go with Indian bread or rice were amalgamated into just one spicy concoction-the ‘bhaji’. Thus was born– the celebrated pav-bhaji!

Initally, it remained as the food of the mill-workers. The dish was then patronized extensively by the upcoming Mumbai underworld. This resulted in the dish finding its way into restaurants and spreading over Central Mumbai and other areas. The pav bhaji was made famous by the various roles played by Bollywood heroes as pav bhaji vendors, notable amongst them being the one played by Sanjay Dutt in the movie Vaastav.

Here is a recipe to make Pav Bhaji

The most famous pav bhaji is just opposite my house at SARDAR. Nothing beats the pav bhaji there and the long line of cars late into the night is a true attestation of its lip-smacking taste.

Image copyrights

Bhel Puri completes the trio of Bombay Eats.

Bhelpuri at its very basic is

Puffed rice and sev, a fried snack made from besan flour, form the base of the bhel. Bhel puri is made from finely cut tomatoes, onions and chillies added to the base. Other versions of the snack include potatoes in a spicy onion base. Chutneys may be added to give it a sweet or spicy flavour. Sev, a chickpea based topping is sprinkled and garnished with coriander leaves and lime. It is then served with toasted puris, (a deep fried wheat bread). The result is a sour/pungent/sweet tasting evening snack.

Bhel puri is usually made with two different “chutneys” (Hindi for sauce) – one spicy chutney made of green chilli and the other sweet chutney made of dates or tamarind. Diced red onion, diced tomatoes, thin sev, cilantro leaves and peanuts are the other ingredients of the standard bhelpuri. Some add pomegranate seeds or diced raw mango for better taste. [link]

Bhel has become famous all over India and in many parts of the world for its simplicity in making it. It needs no cooking per se. And the ingredients are generally available everywhere.

All over the country it is called Bombay Bhel for obvious reasons. Bollywood has done its fair share to promote its image.

Some of the best bhel is available on the beaches of Bombay, namely Chowpatty and Juhu.

Its also famous at eateries like Swati Snack House and Badshah Cold Drink House.

Bhel outside Bombay never tastes the same. Taste is in the air and the water.

The Breach Candy Sandwich

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The Gorment Cartographer chronicles one my favorite Mumbai streets foods the “Breach Candy Grilled sandwich” (a.k.a the Grilled Veggie Sandwich).

Over to her,

This is the sandwich I always talk about. Vegetarian sandwiches in the US do not compare to this. It’s so buttery and crispy and filling (it’s a struggle to finish one). In past years, the sandwich has definitely been more tasty than when I had it last week (two days after I landed)… I think they changed the chutney making man

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I would definitely agree the Bombaiya grilled sandwich takes the bite for a great and tasty vegetarian sandwich – nothing compares.

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