Want To Eat A Chocolate Plant? What To Expect When You’re Eating

We’re Talking About: Food trends that can be seen in our restaurant menus with the changes we have made in our eating habits in the past decade.  Our new lifestyle is bringing about a food revolution with modern techniques fulfilling our catering needs. Masala Library gives us a peek into the future of food in India.

Even as we blow out the steam from our mouth, we can’t stop biting into those of golden crispy pakoras with chatpata chutneys, juicy kebabs with the aromas of burning coal and the medley of spicy, sweet and sour flavours a crunchy sev-puri is. Yet, the waists of our Kareena Kapoors & Priyanka Chopras are shrinking every decade and our nutritionist insists on smaller portion size and frequent meals. But when we put on our fancy shirt, wear that favourite perfume and slip into those stilettoes (shiny leather shoes for men!) for a sit down meal we want to feel pampered with appealing choices on the menu.

Alternating between multi-tasking at work, social gatherings and no time to eat, less has become the new more. We’re a look-good and feel-good population; we need something that is in tune with our needs. As we try hard to keep up with a healthy eating schedule and find the perfect meals. Our lifestyle has brought in some interesting changes in our restaurant menus and food stores.

4 Upcoming Food Trends in India

Trend #1

Element of Surprise

Putting a new spin to add that X-factor to a classic dish. We have all tried the old classics in our favourite restaurants, be it the butter chicken and kadhai paneer, or the rabdi jalebi and chocolate brownie. Adding an element of surprise in a classic gives it an edge. For instance, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor added an element of surprise to Butter Chicken in Signature, his Dubai restaurant by making the tomato makhni gravy white instead of the Regular-Red. He kept the flavours of tomato makhni intact and added lemongrass for the extra zing in the good old butter chicken. This twist has made a simple dish so intriguing.

Lemongrass Butter Chicken at Signature, Dubai Courtesy TimeOut Dubai

Lemongrass Butter Chicken at Signature, Dubai Courtesy TimeOut Dubai

The good old chocolate brownie for instance has been presented in so many different ways; on a sizzler plate with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce. The way Masala Library has kept the goodness of drool-worthy classic intact, cause you can hardly make a moist chocolate brownie better, they have put a great spin on the presentation. The chocolate brownie is broken into soil in a pot and served with a watering can. This element of surprise is what will draw you to this dessert each time. Such a play on presentation without messing with classic flavours, makes you want more everytime!

Trend #2

Bite Size Food

Bite size food has always been a part of the Indian diet as ‘Nashta’. Michelin Star Chef Atul Kochhar, who owns ‘Benaras’, one of the finest Indian restaurants in London told me about the importance of ‘Nashta’ in the Indian diet. He shared memories of ‘nashta’ like chaat and munchies like chana or ‘bhutta’ (roasted corn) that he savoured as a child and that are a crucial part of Indian Cuisine even today, during an interview for ‘Chicken Tikka Masala Conquers Britain’ a few years ago.

Earlier on there was the concept of ‘nashta’, between meal snacks and ‘khaana’, the large portions of main meals. With the ‘Want to stay fit and look fabulous’ concept getting contagious in metros we are putting more in every bite. Nashta and Khaana are becoming one as we eat small portions frequently. Small portion adds variety, is handy in social gatherings, and ranges from affordable favourites to fancy haute cuisine. It is also a great way to try new flavours and avoid food wastage.

London based Food Critic & Television Personality; Glynn Christian has been studying global food trends for four decades now. When I interviewed him for ‘CTM Conquers Britain’, he spoke about the increase in the popularity of Tapas-Style food. He even predicted that ‘Indian Tapas’ are the future of Indian food.

 

Trend #3

Variety of Meats

Food stores like a Godrej Nature’s Basket and online bazaars like Gourmet Company have started storing a variety of meats that were scarcely available in the Indian market ten years ago. Meat meant lamb meat to my father’s generation and I have grown up eating chicken preparations. Lamb has dominated the meat scene in India for centuries and then it’s been chicken for a few decades now. Slowly, duck and turkey are making frequent appearances on our dinner plates with the introduction of world cuisine. Even meats like bacon and beef that were frowned upon earlier are making their way to our dining table.

While religious sentiments are strong, and cow slaughter is still banned in India, beef and bacon are now being appreciated and accepted by many urban diners. While the future of such meats in India is still a big question, poultry varieties may be more acceptable to the religious Indian.

 

Trend #4

Food Chemistry & Molecular Cooking

Playing with the concept of food is quite popular across the world metros, my favourite Chef, Heston Blumenthal is among the best in such modern cooking techniques. In India though we are still in the ‘Trial & Testing’ period when it comes to applying physics and chemistry to food. Chefs like Vicky Ratnani and in this case, Jiggs Kalra’s Masala Library have introduced new-age food concepts in Mumbai.

Keeping the essence of Indian flavours and relatable textures intact, Molecular cooking, using special equipment and chemicals to prepare food is a revolution in Indian cooking. For instance, I savoured the crunch, the syrupy mouth-feel, the richness and the flavours of Rabdi & Jalebi in just one bite. Thanks to the technique used, this classic was every bit the same in bringing joy to the senses but lighter and better.

Masala Library makes you see how Bite Size Food and Molecular Gastronomy put together smartly can concentrate the joy in every bite. When the extravagance of an Indian feast fit for kings is brought together in a single bite then you’ve got the best of both worlds. It also allows you to sample a variety without making your stomach work a double shift.

Jiggs Kalra is a visionary, who knows the past, present and future of food in this country. We were in the future at the pre-launch party of Masala Library, as it went beyond from what we already know to what it could become. Modern techniques, the use of molecular gastronomy have been combined with Indian flavours to design this menu. All elements of Indian classics are put together in one bite. It is simply a wonderful explosion of different textures and flavours. These are some of the dishes that caught my attention among those that were featured in the prelaunch.

Crunchy Caviar of Jalebi with a Saffron Rabdi foam

While preserving the essence of the flavours in a jalebi and rabdi, they introduced a crunchy pop candy like texture in the Jalebi caviar. Each caviar was so tiny and yet so crunchy that it tingles your tongue, the rabdi that goes with it is so light and beautiful. Close your eyes and imagine that crunch of a million tiny pop like jalebis, the moist syrup in the jalebi along with flavour of rabdi in a light milky foam which is usually made with Lecithin from the kitchen laboratory. This is how fun and flavour both fit into one bite.

Jalebi Caviar & Rabdi Foam

Jalebi Caviar & Rabdi Foam

Sphere of Curd

A very dramatic dish, with vapours of dry ice flowing from under it, was actually a sphere of flavoured yogurt or raita. A film forms on the circumference of a liquid, forming a sphere when Calcic and Algin are used to make it. It is like a small ball of yogurt, which breaks once you put it in your mouth and the liquid raita inside flows into your mouth. This dish was more dramatic than it was flavourful.

Raiti Sphere on Dry Ice Vapours

Raiti Sphere on Dry Ice Vapours

Want to Eat A Chocolate Plant?

This dish is simple and deliciously so, yet exciting in a unique way. The style of presenting a chocolate brownie as a potted plant may come as a pleasant surprise, but the flavours in here are traditional and fantastic. A green watering can with chocolate sauce is served on the side to pour into the chocolate soil. While this concept is great, it seems as though it was borrowed from Heston Blumenthal’s Garden Salad with olive dirt (Image Below). The concept has been adapted well to suit Indian taste and sensibility, and eating straight out of a plant! That’s just good sense now, isn’t it?

Chocolate Soil

Chocolate Soil

Heston Blumenthal's Garden Salad, Courtesy Guardian, UK

Heston Blumenthal’s Garden Salad, Courtesy Guardian, UK

Guchchi Kulcha

The Kashmiri morel mushroom known as guchchi is priced at no less than twenty thousand rupees a kg as on date, which is a hundred times the price of button mushrooms. Is it a hundred times better? Incorrect, it is a thousand times the earthiness, the meatiness of a button mushroom and has such an intense and characteristic flavour that will make you drool. Guchchi with the world’s most expensive and by default most flavourful mushroom, truffle is used to make a stuffing for this kulcha along with the added creaminess of cheese in bite size kulchas. There were also other varieties such as the prawn balchao kulcha and the egg kulcha but Guchchi kulcha was the hero.

Guchchi Kulcha and Sarson ka Saag Quesidilla

Guchchi Kulcha and Sarson ka Saag Quesidilla

 

Prawn Chettinad

Coming back to the world of more regular bite size food, there was the prawn chettinad, juicy and succulent, mildly coated with spices. The spices were not overpowering the flavour of the fresh prawn, so all you could taste and feel was the freshness of the prawn.

Prawn Chettinad

Prawn Chettinad

Among other interesting items that featured on the menu, there was duck curry canapés, mishti doi lollypops served in a vase, sarson ka saag and make ki roti quesadillas, lamb curry canapé on a varqi roti base, to name a few. What did I tell you about revolutionizing every bite in Indian food! In Masala Library the innovative menu is the hero and the food tasted great too, so it will continue to lure you even when you stop being amazed by its look.

We’ve been reading and hearing about the French pre-appetiser, amuse bouche intended at teasing the appetite. Well, this selection of canapés, caviars and crisps did more than just tease the appetite, given that we were pretty full even after sampling the variety with some wine.

While the #BiteSizeFood trend is picking up, it may take a while for people to be able to relate to tiny-looking food on their dinner table. Finger food has always been more popular in parties but it will be sometime before we get rid of the big pot of biryani to sum it up with. It will also be interesting to note the shift in restaurant menu choices, home kitchens and breeding-for-meat in India. But I’m most excited to know what degree of molecular surprise factor we Indians can take in a plate.

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Perks & Miseries of Being a Food Blogger; Vetro, The Oberoi Event

What’s it About: Passionate Mumbai diners take it upon themselves to help you find the best places to eat.  The fun part is that we are frequently invited by restaurants for reviews. We, Mumbai food bloggers experience the best and the worst of the food world thanks to PR agencies. Here is an account of one such experience and a brief low-down of some disastrous ones.

 

Mumbaikars love eating Pav Bhaji from a stall in Juhu that serves us diligently in the car, and don’t mind driving miles for Baghdadi’s massive and intimidating, giant Frisbee-like rotis dunked in chicken curry, and will pay the price for good food in those proud Hotels studded along the Mumbai coastline, sparkling in the city. I ate at two such sparkles of the city this week, and one of them was in Vetro at The Oberoi. (You can read about the other one here).

 

I love that feeling, when you enter a good luxury hotel, it makes you feel like a Queen (or a King) entering her palace. When tall darbaans with big moustaches push open the shiny glass doors, as you walk into the long corridors adorned with fresh flowers and through a spacious and elegantly furnished lobby where so many important people have walked, the feeling just perks you up. You don’t get this feeling in every luxury hotel, while some hotels take this experience for granted, others know how important and difficult it is to make a person feel special. The art of creating an experience began even before I entered the restaurant that we were to dine in. Every security guard wished me ‘Namaste!’, every staff member was gracious and directed me with a smile. Little things like this tell you, these people care.

 

As I entered the well lit, spacious restaurant I was greeted by the hostess and comfortably seated at my table, where I met the lady who had organized this #SMWBloggersLunch . When I say it was a bloggers’ lunch oftentimes it is taken for granted that the food, service and overall experience would have been great. I wish that was the case, but it’s so not true. Although many restaurants have managed to create a good experience and even made many of us loyal patrons, there are others that have (pardon my language) ‘screwed up big time’. If the food is bad, you cannot repair the experience, even at an organized event. If the service staff isn’t well trained, then the PR agency is rarely able to cover their faults. We, Mumbai Food Bloggers have eaten saltless, tasteless, chewy food, burnt food and there has also been an event where there was nearly no food for vegetarians at all!! This often happens in restaurants that are trying to repair a bad reputation by organising a bloggers’ event. So, don’t be deceived by this term ‘Bloggers’ Lunch’ because for every 5 bad meals, there comes a much deserved food experience like the one that follows.

I have stopped taking for granted that high priced meals in luxury hotels equals to great service and good food. Mumbai bloggers’ as a group have criticized and (pardon my language) bitched about a buffet organized by a reputed 5 Star Hotel chain during a Bloggers’ event. Watery curries and dried out and overcooked meat, is a thing well known to us even when eating at an event that is tailor made for appreciation. Just two days ago, I dined at another town-based luxury hotel and the food there was short of ordinary. So,  my expectations from Vetro at The Oberoi Mumbai were more grounded than you would expect.

 

About the Wines

IMAG1567

One thing that caught my sight at once in the Vetro menu was that they offer 1200 Italian wines. I saw the wine cellar and asked the gentleman giving us the tour, ‘It doesn’t seem like 1200 wines would fit in here’. He informed me that they store about 120 or so wines in the cellar, and the variety includes Indian, Italian, French, Spanish and even some American wines. The cheapest wines available in Vetro is Sula Brut which is close to 3000 rupees as on date, even so, the acidic aperitif Italian wine we tasted, Danzante was available in the same price range. On the other hand the 2004 Vintage wine Chevil Blanc was priced at a whooping one lakh thirty thousand, as on date. One thing that I did not know about Vintage Wines was that it is not necessary that the older the wine, the better, but particular batches from good wine years may be better than an older wine. For instance, a 2002 wine may be older but the 2004 Vintage wine batch is better, because it was a good wine year. After an hour and a half discussion about wines, and sampling some of their wines we moved on to the food.

 

Menu

 

Expat Chef Alexandro Stephoni, who has revised the Vetro menu could not meet us since he is currently in Italy. Instead Sous Chef Prashant took us through the menu that includes some classics such as tomato and mozzarella salad and minestrone and some unconventional options like vegetable terrine, chicken pie (not a regular pastry pie) and a baked onion stuffed with smoked aubergine. Just for reference, an average 3-course meal here would cost around Rs.3000 or above as on date. (Price-range mentioned in this article is specific to the date and subject to change).

 

Food

 

The peco rino and cauliflower dip was a breath of fresh air, along with the garlicky tomato and basil dip we all love, which was served with ciabata that was slightly dry.  What I really enjoyed was the salty parma ham with a fruity Spanish white wine called Milmanda. While the vegetarian terrine concept was interesting, if I were a vegetarian or egg-itarian I would most likely opt for a Minestrone or the 2 cheese fonduta soup with black truffle cream and soft poached eggs. The pork belly appetizer was moist, succulent, tender and honey brushed, everything you wish for in a pork belly. It was made with love and glazed with perfection. The seafood salad was sent from heaven, so fresh, it seemed as though the squids had jumped right into my plate from the sea. Served with garlic cream, the calamari, the prawn, the scallops were so perfectly tender, it was a second before they just disappeared in my mouth. Beautiful, beautiful texture!

 

Then came the pasta course, we sampled three of the pastas. The freshly made parmesan ravioli with celery cream and black truffle sauce, the Risotto with ‘nduja’ of Tuna, which was a raw tuna tartare steak with seafood risotto and the Lobster Tagliatelle. I would definitely go back to Vetro for the Tuna Risotto and the Parmesan Ravioli. The risotto in mascaporne cheese sauce was freshly simmered in a seafood stock and every grain was beautifully creamy, while the fennel and spices of the tuna steak were cutting the creaminess and bringing the dish together. The ravioli was freshly made and stuffed with cheese, served with black truffle cream, need I say more? Surprisingly, the tagliatelle, which has a spicy kick, is designed for the Indian palate but didn’t quite blow away my senses.

 

After the great appetisers and pasta course, the main course was a bit of a let down. We were pretty impressed and were waiting to be amazed by the pork and interestingly constructed chicken pie in Peroni beer sauce that is cooked in sous vide (modern vacuum cooking). While the pastry-less, leg and breast chicken pie was a little tough and dry, the flash cooked pork wasn’t flashy after all; although I did enjoy the lemon mash that came with it. In my like-it-or-not honest fashion, I promptly told Chef Prashant about the problem areas, the Ciabatta and the chicken pie. He seemed to take it pretty well.

 

If the French thought that gateaus and cakes are all about butter, the Itaians have proved them wrong with their Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chocolate cake with macerated orange flesh. This is a great find in the world of light desserts and cake lovers. It crumbled so well, and the freshness and flavor of the orange was unique, light and refreshing. Marvelous Olive Oil Chocolate Cake! The other desserts being mango panacotta, blueberry ice-cream (made in house) and tiramisu (mentioned in order of yumminess) were gorgeously delicious and hit the right spots but the Olive Oil Chocolate cake won it for me.

 

We felt pampered with great food, attentive service topped by a detailed conversation about the food and wines in Vetro is every foodie’s dream experience. It was mesmerizing to listen to Mr. Mohan talk about wines, his hair has greyed serving and learning about wines, he had so much valuable information to share with us, about drinking, making and even grading wines. I have worked in 5 Star properties and luxury hotels myself, but it is not often that you see such passion for work. Blogger or no blogger, food here is worth sampling, just for the love of food. I for one would definitely go back for the pork belly appetizer, the risotto and the Olive Oil Chocolate cake.

What Mumbai Food Bloggers Want

 

As Mumbai bloggers scout the city and continue the search for good food in every nook and corner of Mumbai, I believe every voice counts. While I enjoy the Reema’s humour in food criticism, Adarsh’s definite and brutally honest style cannot be missed, surprisingly he also happens to be one who finds bugs in food and tells us about it! Ashrita of caramel wings has a more casual and friendly style of writing while desh’s detailed food experiences can deeply involve you. As for me, I tend to empathize more having worked in Hotel kitchens and dealt with the challenges in an industrial kitchen. Having said that, while Mumbai bloggers do have a strong point of view and are not easy to impress, most of them have very good knowledge of their food, ingredients and even wines. What restaurants are yet to realize is that unlike a decade ago, diners are familiar with their wines, truffles and can even tell the difference between Parmesan and a Grana Padano. It is not only interesting to read the different, yet similar points of view of Mumbai diners, it is also a great way to track trends and preferences in the city’s dining patterns.

 

If you wish to read different points of view on this Bloggers’ Lunch, you can do so on Gaurav Jain and Jyotika’s Follow My Recipe blog.

 

 

The Little Bright Blue Place called Jamjar Diner

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Name: JamJar Diner, 7 Bungalows Date of Visit: July 21st, 2013 (Dinner) Location: A Little, bright blue building opposite Versova beach, 7 Bungalows Ambience: It’s a cosy little bright blue place with books, boards games and music! A 90s’ MJ song was playing loudly as we stepped inside the dimly lit Diner. As my younger […]

Purani Dilli Ka Zaiqa; Are You Missing Something or Is it Just Another Marketing Strategy? Copper Chimney

Name: Purani Dilli Ka Zaiqa Festival at Copper Chimney

Location: Oberoi Mall, Goregaon

Date of Visit: 16th September 2012 (Lunch)

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Don’t you wonder when you read an ad about a festival at your favourite restaurant. Should I make a trip to Copper Chimney for this festival? Is it special? Am I missing something if I don’t make a trip before 12th October?

Let me answer all of these questions about Purani Dilli Ka Zaiqa for you.

Why festivals?

 

We all know about most of the items that exist in an Indian fine dining menu. The tomato based, nut based curries, tandoori chicken and a bunch of other kebabs. I bet I can name 70percent of the basic preparations in any restaurant menu before glancing at it. Festivals introduce change from the ordinary list to hopefully to an extraordinary selection of novel dishes. It also gives an opportunity to the restaurant to experiment and introduce new dishes. Often popular dishes from festival menus are later included to the regular menu.

Did the Festival Succeed As a Concept?

As a concept Purani Dilli flavours is a safe bet. Purani Dilli Ka Zaiqa brings the flavours of Old Delhi to Indian Fine Dining. This festival attempts to match the exotic flavours of kebabs, rich ghosht preparations as well as Dilli chaat varieties have been brought to the table. Similar items are already a part of the Copper Chimney menu. The selection of starters and curries is similar to what I have eaten before from their regular menu apart from one or two selected preparations, which stood out.

There is limited variety of items for vegetarians. This is acceptable because Purani Dilli mostly features boti kebabs, khameeri rotis along with preparations like kormas, keema and neharis. Having said that, many Dilli style preparations have been brought to the table to add to the vegetarian variety, including sweet potato chaat and chhole tikki.

Is It Worth making a trip to Copper Chimney for this festival?

There are a few highlights in this festival.

Must Try

 

Dilli Chaat

Shakarkandi Chaat – Have you ever tried sweet potato chaat? It is rarely available in Mumbai, but in Delhi and Punjab you can spot these little stalls with steaming hot sweet potato and masala, especially during the winter. If you have a palate for sweet potatoes you should definitely try this unique chaat.

Raj Kachori chaat was featured on the menu but we were told that it will be discontinued since the execution of the item had not been successful.

Chhole Tikki is also featured on the menu, although I have no doubt that its execution and taste can be trusted, I did not try it since it is easily available across Mumbai.

Tali Machhli

The advantage of having a Purani Dilli dish at a fine dining restaurant is this superb quality fish and a non-oily light preparation with subtle flavours. This was ideal since the delicate texture of the fish was worth being highlighted in the dish. This was the Star dish of the meal. Tali Machhli does not sound appetising enough, it does not do justice to this dish. The USP is that it has been prepared with vietnamese Vasa filets in subtle Indian flavours, making it a modern twist of Purani Dilli’s Tali machhli.

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Jama Masjid Ka Ghosht Korma

Based on a full bodied mutton stock like nalli nehari, this cardamom flavoured red curry mutton preparation is full of flavour. Its ‘nehari’ quality base makes it a favourite on the festival menu. This quality and this style of mutton preparation however, is no different from the regular selection of items in Copper Chimney. This is a great dish but not  big change for the palate.

Bread & Rice Selection

The typically purani dilli style rotis and rice preparations are worth mentioning. Although the peethi puri is similar to a dal kachori, the khameeri roti with its chewy texture goes beautifully with the mutton preparations such as the ghosht korma. Afghani Rice cooked in dum is among other unique items in this selection.

Kulfi Falooda

Kulfi falooda is served in many restaurants across the city yet, I loved this dessert for its presentation and flavours. The kulfi was smooth, flavourful beautifully combined with the falooda.

Not Worth It

Murgh Boti and Murgh Changezi did not work for me. They were like any other preparation, at any other restaurant. These preparations did not impress my tongue because they did not surprise me. Murgh boti was similar to chicken tikka and Murgh Changezi is a semi dry preparation tasting similar to home-style sukha chicken flavoured with whole spices.

Similarly, with the Mughlai Paneer I expect you to surprise me with something new but unfortunately this paneer preparation was just like other paneer preparations at Copper Chimney’s standard menu.

My Verdict

Vegetarians and those who are inclined towards poultry need not bother visiting specifically for this festival, unless you intend to visit Copper Chimney anyway because the food quality was consistent and top notch. For the Tali machhli preparation and khameeri roti with mutton I recommend this festival to all non-vegetarians.

It is an ala carte festival menu and you can order a combination of items from the festival selection as well as their regular menu. Purani Dilli ka Zaiqa brings Old Delhi flavours to your table in a contemporary style. Copper Chimney fans will not be disappointed. That thing about this place for Copper Chimney is always the consistency they have maintained over the years in food quality as well as service. The festival in particular doesn’t boast great novelty, having said that, it is worth trying Khameeri rotis which is a breath of fresh air.

(Please note that this was a review on invitation.)

Ambience: 7/ 10 Good

Value for Money (Festival): 7/ 10 Good

Menu (Festival): 7/ 10 Good

Food (Festival): 7/ 10 Good

Service: 7/10 Good

That Thing About This Festival: 6/ 10 Average

Good Ambience + Good Value for Money + Good Menu + Good Food + Good service + Average That Thing About This Festival = Good

Rating: 7/ 10

Rajwar Festival in Rajdhani; Is It Worth the Extra Cost?

Name: Rajdhani, Rajwar festival

Location: Phoenix Market City, Kurla

Date of Visit: 15th September 2012 (lunch)

Why I would prefer going to Rajdhani over other Thali places in Mumbai? It is because of their delectable sweets. The sweets at Rajdhani have won the battle of Thalis for me. It was a good thali until I had the sweets, and then it crossed the line to extraordinary. We were visiting the Phoenix Market City, Kurla branch of Rajdhani on invitation. While this branch is far, far away, the food of Rajdhani has always been promising so we didn’t mind the travel. Although if I were you, I would go to the branch closest to work or home since the all branches of Rajdhani are running this festival till the end of this month.

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Rajwar Festival as a Concept

The Rajwar festival is conceptualized around the food served to Royalty and therefore offers richer food with more number of items compared to the standard thali in Rajdhani. The servers are also dressed in Royal-style uniforms. The festival attempts to bring Royal style of cooking to your table. The fragrance of pure desi ghee in the food is testimony to Royal meals.

Are both Thalis available? During the Rajwar festival, the standard Thali of Rajdhani is not available.

Regular versus Rajwar

 

(Please Note the Pricing is subject to the Kurla outlet, different Rajdhani outlets have different pricing.)

Regular was for Rs.325 (Kurla) – It consists of a variety of vegetables, dals, kadhi, breads and sweets. The number of items is fewer in comparison with the Rajwar Thali and a welcome drink is not served as part of the meal.

Versus Rajwar Thali for Rs. 375 (Rs. 425 for dinner and on Weekends) – Consists of 5 or 6 more items than the standard thali. It includes an extra starter, a welcome drink, jalebi, malpua and rabdi, new fruit halwas such as apple, chikoo and pineapple have been introduced, Phirni has been included, one extra vegetable is also served in the Rajwar thali. Gatte ki sabzi and Dal Bati Churma which are otherwise rotating items on the menu, will be served on all days throughout the festival. It also includes a refreshing pan shot at the end of the meal which was yummy!

There is no point in me mentioning each chutney or farsan served on the thali. I am just going to tell you the great dishes from the disappointing ones.

 

 

Extraordinary Dishes

Chikoo halwa – lightly sweetened, this chikoo flavoured halwa was not too heavy on the stomach, nor was it dominated by the ghee in it. It was light and beautifully flavoured. I wouldn’t have tried it if everyone at the table weren’t raving about it already.

Malpua & rabdi – Out of this world! The texture of these tiny malpuas crisp on the sides, soft in the center dipped in light sugar syrup, smeared with rabdi. The extraordinary thing about this dish was that from the looks of it, it seems too sweet and heavy but it is so smartly executed that all you experience is the wonderful flavours and texture in your mouth. It is unlike other experiences where in you feel that your tongue will stick to your palate with the sugar in it. This was the Star dish of my meal.

Jalebi – The tiny mouthfuls of warm, crisp jalebi was dipped in a saffron flavoured light sugar syrup. Making it more appetising even after a meal than jalebis are for breakfast.

Good Dishes

 

Kadhi – plain kadhi usually has limited scope for note worthy flavours. The thickened buttermilk was flavoured with a little ghee giving the kadhi so much character.

Masala Khichdi – with some vegetables and lots of ghee this khichdi was much better than regular khichdi.

Lasan Chutney – very spicy, lip smacking and delicious.

Chhaas

Batata Sukha Bhaji

Math rasawala

Hari Moong Dal – was flavoured with spices.

Phirni – was good, not too sweet.

Ordinary Dishes

Paneer Tikha

Valore Muthiya

Masala Puri

Dal bati

Disappointing Items

Puran Poli

Biscuit bhakri; it is interesting concept, but doesn’t work on the grains used to make bhakri. I have eaten other biscuit forms of bread, this one was very hard to bite. I didn’t enjoy it.

Shahi Gatta – the gatta was too dense and unappetizing. I liked the gravy of this dish.

Churma – lack of flavour made it seem like an unmotivated cook prepared the churma.

Dahi bada – was also too dense and not palatable.

Patra – was also very dense and lacked flavour.

It is worth mentioning that the Rajdhani group intends to maintain the cost of the Thali at Rs. 375 even after the festival, as mentioned to me by Mr. Aji Nair who is the F&B Vice-President with Rajdhani. It is only fair since with the amount of pure ghee added to the food. We were also taken to visit the kitchen where food is freshly prepared in batches, with good quality ingredients in a hygienic space. With the prices of food, fuel and other items rising, it is unfair to expect restaurants to be serving food at the same old price without compromising the quality.

Some popular items of the festival are also likely to feature in the standard thali after the festival ends. If you were planning a trip to Rajdhani, it would be a smart decision to go for the Rajwar festival for the extra items and richer and tastier food. The price of the standard thali may or may not be the same as it was earlier.

Service – In my experience, traditional Thali restaurants have the best and the most courteous service compared to other restaurants. The true meaning of Indian hospitality and culture is reflected in their service. On my previous visit to Rajdhani I found the servers to be polite, courteous and prompt. On this occasion the service was exceptional, however, I will except this aspect of the review since we were there to review this festival on invitation.

The service staff has also developed their own sign language to interact with each other to bring a particular item to the table. Using these signs reduces chaos, confusion and loud noises in the restaurant. It was interesting to watch them interacting in their ‘thali’ language.

Do I recommend a visit to the Rajwar festival? Yes, for the malpua, rabdi and jalebi, which were out of this world. I am not a sweet tooth and neither am I a big fan of malpua or jalebi. Most of the time I prefer to skip the sweet course, so believe me when I say it was gorgeous. It was so good, that me, a ‘no-sweet-for-me’ person loved it. Sweet tooth or no, you must try their new range of desserts in the Rajwar festival and that is the thing about this place. With many tasty items in this selection I intend to visit again, this time with family.

Ambience: 7/ 10 Good

Value For Money: 8/ 10 Very Good

Menu: 8/ 10 Very Good

Food: 8/ 10 Very Good

Service: 7/ 10 Good

That Thing About This Place: 8/ 10 Very Good

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

Rating: 8/10

5 Things I Hate About Silver Beach Café, Juhu; Confessions of a Tortured Tongue

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Name: Silver Beach Café

Location: Juhu

Date of Visit: 8th September, 2012 (Dinner hour)

I rarely use the word ‘hate’ for a restaurant so let me fully explain why I came about using this word for Silver Beach Café. Silver Beach Café is the perfect example of ‘All that glitters is not gold’. When I entered this dimly lit, cosy little café I was surprised to see such few tables occupied on a Saturday evening. ‘What could go wrong with a place like this?’ I thought to myself, hoping to not find the reason in their food. Everything, every single thing can go wrong in a place like this. Alas! I did not know this before I visited, else I would be saved from the strange things that they call food.

Reason 1 – I’m torn between spitting it out and swallowing these potatoes with water.

Their service staff recommended a potato appetizer. I think their tongues must’ve gotten numb from tasting unappetizing food for a long time. It was confusing to me; first, why the appetizer was brought to our table after one of the main dishes was served. Secondly, I was extremely confused about what they were trying to achieve when they designed this dish. It was unwashed, unpeeled and undercooked medium sized potatoes, cut into half smeared with coriander paste and served on a bed of very sweet tomatoes. It’s indecent to spit the food, so I gulped it down with water.

Reason 2 – Offensive Service

The service staff was rude, and they did not know what they were doing. I asked the gentleman (sorry, rude man) serving us whether it would take much longer to bring the food to our table. He did not look at me, he did not stop to listen to what I wanted to say, he simply passed me by while my head turned to follow him, when finally he spilled out the words, ‘5 minutes!’ To tell you the truth I almost felt privileged at that moment when he replied. Thank you Mister, no tip for you. He mustn’t be worried about that, they charge a pretty good sum as service charges. Clearly, the restaurant owners know about the bad service and yet don’t wish to loose tip money.

Reason 3 – It feels like being in Jail.

Have you ever thought what it would be like to be handed food in Jail? Well, here is your chance. The service staff is doing you a favour. They don’t look at you, or smile or bother for a kind word to their paying customers. They also bring your food, as it is prepared, not all together. If you want to eat together, everyone must order the exact the same dish. No, that won’t help either. They don’t understand that people have come to a restaurant to enjoy a meal ‘together’. Live with it!

Reason 4 – Which Jerk Made this Jerk Chicken?

Or should I just call it what it really is, a rubber chappal? When I put this chicken in my mouth, I could visualize the cook tormenting that stale chicken breast. Whatever juices were left of it, were pressed on a hot grill and forced out to yield rubber on my plate. Like a Punjabi mother crisps up parathas. It’s a pity chicken breast wasn’t treated differently. The sauce couldn’t mask the chappal. Yet, somehow that wasn’t the worst part. The cook managed to make it worse. Cook a cup of rice in half a bottle of vinegar, bad quality vinegar and you’ll know what the accompanying rice tasted like. It was hard to tell whether the rice was stale or not, because all I could taste was vinegar. Don’t ask me how I finished this dish, let’s just say, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Reason 5 – How can you go wrong with cream based pasta?

I don’t think I will ever be able to answer this question; you may try if you will. The spaghetti was what I call ‘Blue Bird’ quality pasta. It was stick, soggy and broken all through. Spaghetti was obviously over cooked. The cream was in lumps and not properly mixed before it was added. It was edible, like the spaghetti I must’ve cooked when I was eight. No, I was never this bad. The quantity was pretty good, but that would have mattered more if the pasta tasted better.

The ham and chicken pizza they served even before the appetizer tasted okay.

This meal was in many ways a writer’s dream and a nightmare. Dream because I enjoyed telling you about it, a nightmare because I had to eat it before I told you about it. With dark wood furniture set in a cosy almost cramped space, a cigar selection and a variety of wines to choose from don’t be deceived by the appearance of this place. It is not worth anyone’s time. No wonder it was sparsely populated even on a Saturday evening. That thing about this place is that they carry a selection of cigars.

Ambience: 6 Average

Value For Money: 5 Below Average

Menu: 6 Average

Food: 3 Poor

Service: 3 Poor

That Thing About This Place: 7 Good

Average Ambience + Below Average Value For Money + Average Menu + Poor Food + Poor Service + Good That Thing About This Place = Below Average

Rating: 5 on 10

Brings You Home. Revival Indian Thali, Lokhandwala

With frozen toes, curled up in my blanket, my hands arrested, leaning my head on that frosted window I gazed at the snow; it was a chilly winter, that year in Nottingham. Yet, when I closed my eyes and thought about home, I could breathe the smell of fresh rotis soaked in desi ghee, the sweetness and creamy texture of white butter rolling in my mouth, that piece of ‘gud’ at the end of the meal which just sticks on to your palate and plays with your senses for hours later. Even the thought filled me with warmth and brought a smile on my cold lips.

I would often get lost into my own world while writing long and boring assignments. Then again, don’t we all? My mouth still waters when I think about a large, well prepared thali with four different types of vegetables, curries, dal and kadhi served with delicious rotis soaked in ghee. Not to forget, the papads, achaars, chutneys and delicious sweets. In many ways my visit to Revival was a realization of that recurring dream I used to have in Nottingham. I mean who are we kidding, which one of us in todays time and age has the time to even think about preparing more than one sabzi and dal? We save the trouble of making kadhi and khandvi for special occasions.

Revival’s warm and welcoming hospitality showcases Indian culture at its best. There is no doubt that this is a great place to bring along your foreign collaborators or friends. There are LCD screens at each table that describe each dish on the day’s menu for the diner’s information.

It was a reasonably priced meal at approximately Rupees 280 per person on weekdays as on 6th July 2012 and Rs 335 on Sundays. With a well-lit and spacious dining area and traditionally dressed serving staff, the dining experience here is a delight.

Heavy Thalis in an intimidating size covered with fabric covers were laid on the tables. The service staff was warm and well spoken; I was happy to hear them speak to us in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati or Marvari rather than in English as they served each item with a smile. One of the biggest USPs of this meal was the royal treatment with chandan (Sandalwood) water that was brought to our table at the beginning and end of the meal to wash our hands.

We were welcomed with a warm Tulsi drink followed by a range of savoury items including Gujarati and Marvari Kadhi, Spicy Dal, Khandvi, dhokla and rasam, small sabudana patty filled with roasted peanut mixture, along with veg kurma, matki math (which I loved), batata bhaji and tori with matar for the vegetable curries and dry preparations. My favourites on the Thali were the soft and tender Khandvi, Spicy Dal, Matki Math and Veg Kurma.

These were accompanied by 3 types of bread; which included rotis with lots of ghee, the second was crispy, sweet bread and the third, Rotla. Rotla is a bhakri made of Nachni, it is slightly hard and chewy, yet small rotlas served with white butter (loni) and jaggery (gud) was like poetry in my mouth.

The breads were followed by a simple khichadi with lots of ghee and saffron pulav, which sounds better than it tasted. Some amazing chutneys, achaars, papad and murrabbas along with chhaas accompanied these items on the thali. I must mention the Aonla murrabba, I’m not sure whether this was made in house or not, but it was the most amazing aonla murrabba there ever was, great taste.

The food was freshly made with good quality ingredients and from what I learnt from the LCD screen, they were organic ingredients. In fact, apart from traditional Indian food and service Revival also seems to be involved in bringing back organic and ayurvedic food products to our city. I happened to glance at a list of ayurvedic and organic food items featured on the LCD screen, a nice idea to advertise, although I didn’t read much, I was busy enjoying my meal. Even with little katoris on that plate, with the number of items and warmth with which we were insistently served, I was already full by the time we got to the dessert. Revival serves limited dessert on weekdays and unlimited desserts on Sundays. I could just pick one from custard with cut up fruits, strawberry halwa and shrikhand. How can I say no to Shrikhand? I over-stuffed myself, but I don’t regret it. It was a great meal concluded with a meetha pan.

That thing about this place is that they are preserving and promoting Indian traditional meals and hospitality and bringing it forward by using contemporary techniques such as the use of that LCD screen at every table.

#FoodMantraRecommends

Revival’s Rotla with gud and loni (Jaggery & White Butter)

Revival’s Aonla Murrabba

Ambience: 7/ 10 Good

Value For Money: 8/ 10 Very Good (With That Amount of ghee + Unlimited Food)

Menu: 7/ 10 Good

Food: 7/10 Good

Service: 9/10 Excellent

That Thing About This Place: 9/10 Excellent

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

Rating= 8/ 10