Turkish Pop-up – Ottoman Cafe at Four Seasons Worli, Mumbai

I have discovered a new love for traveling or if i put it right, traveling for food. There’s no bigger way to explore a city or country than learning about its culture and food forms a huge part of it. While I have still to embark on my first International trip (yep, I am heading to Japan in September), I’ve already traveled to Ahmedabad, Himachal (read about my McLeodganj trip) and there’s still a lot of 2016 left.

When I am not traveling I make sure I try as many various cuisines in Mumbai as possible, this is a way I get to mentally travel to those cities/countries through the flavours. Two days ago, I took a quick trip to Istanbul via the Ottoman Cafe pop-up happening at Cafe Prato at Four Seasons Worli. Chef Yener Altunay and his team from Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul has put together a menu of mezze platter, eight hours slow cooked lamb shank, handmade manti – Turkish ravioli, yogurt kebabs and of course the traditional dessert baklava and kunefe – layeres of crunchy kadayyf filled with unsalted cheese.

The chefs have brought a few ingredients straight from Istanbul to keep the flavours intact. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of what I ate.

Mezze Platter - Ottoman Cafe, Four Seasons Worli

Mezze Platter – Ottoman Cafe, Four Seasons Worli

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My 10 Favourite Dishes of 2015

2015 was quite action-packed when it comes to food; we saw some big restaurant openings, budget bars (not all of them worked though) and a number of cafe style eateries. Home chefs and pop-up regional meals became bigger and better and we had restaurants focusing on regional Indian dishes (my favourite part of 2015). I had the privilege of tasting some of the finest dishes by excellent chefs and it only made sense to end the year with a round-up of my most favourite dishes.

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai

Amlori (Red ant Eggs) @ Gitika’s Pakghor, Mumbai
2015 turned out to be quite adventurous for me. I went for Gitika Saikia’s pop-up not once but twice and tried all sorts of exotic ingredients – a piquant red ants’ eggs chutney, stir-fried silkworm, duck intestines and the sweet and tangy rice beer; definitely a meal worth remembering. The Amlori – red ants eggs were my favourite. The eggs were stir fried with onions and garlic in mustard oil and mixed with hen eggs to make it look and taste like bhurji.

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai Photo Credit: Cryselle D’Souza

Mutton Curry and Rice @ Monkey Bar, Bandra West, Mumbai
When Monkey Bar opened in Mumbai, I expected it to be a fun and upbeat place with a food menu that plays around with ingredients and serves bar food like never before. The Laal Maas Tacos, Duck Empanadas and Black Burger were all impressive, but my meal ended with me getting nostalgic over Chandraji’s Mutton Balti. The typical Kayastha-style mutton curry – a recipe that Chef Manu Chandra has learnt from his father – is something I have grown-up eating and to find it on a restaurant’s menu was the ultimate food high for me. Continue reading

Non-touristy Things to do in Panjim and Old Goa

“Humen saal mein kam se kam do baar Goa zaroor ana chahiye”, remember Sameer’s dialogue from Dil Chahta Hai? It resonates the feelings of almost every Mumbaiite and I am trying to make it my life’s motto, for now, to visit Goa at least once a year if not twice. This time around, since I was staying at Bay 15 in Dona Paula (there’s another post on it, check it out here), I went exploring Panjim and loved what I saw. Here’re some recommendations if you’re looking at some non-beachy and non-touristy things to do in Goa.

See and Do:

Sit on the steps of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church
This church was built in 1541 as a chapel by the Portuguese and was later converted into a church. The all-white church looks like a giant wedding cake from a distance. Once you’re done lighting candles, sit on the steps and observe the local life and people passing by.

Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception, Panjim

Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception, Panjim

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Restaurant Review: Bay 15, Goa

Last weekend I spent a leisurely time in Goa at the lovely Bay 15 (I’ve written a detailed post about the property here).

A considerable amount of time was spent eating; our dinner on Friday night lasted for three and a half hour, which explains a lot. The restaurant has three menus – Goan, pan Indian and Mediterranean. Or, you can opt for a six-course tasting menu.

Bay 15’s al fresco restaurant is spread across the lawn with a spectacular view of Arabian sea and Mormurgao port in the evening. On our first evening, Chef Mir Hafizur Raheman had prepared a degustation menu which started with Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter – refreshing but lacking the seasonal sweet taste of watermelon.

Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter

Watermelon and Feta Bite with Minty Melon Shooter, Bay 15 Goa

The second course – Crab, Mango and Avocado Salad – impressed us tremendously. Fresh crab paste was sandwiched between layers of chopped avocado and ripe mango which added a nice sweet-sour touch to the dish. The flavours were in complete tandem with each other and the plates were wiped clean. Continue reading

Wine and Food Pairing at JW Marriott with The Happy High

Last Wednesday was spent in the company of fine wines and finer people at a wine tasting event at JW Marriott organized by The Happy High – a Mumbai based beverage consulting, education and experience firm started by Ajit Balgi. I have been interacting with Ajit on Twitter and was surprised when he invited me over to taste Austrian wines. Surprised because my knowledge of wines is limited to mostly the Indian brands.

The wines, that Ajit received from a family run winery in Austria, were to be paired with food at Mezzo Mezzo – JW Marriott’s Italian restaurant. Mezzo Mezzo has recently appointed Chef Matteo Arvonio who has previously worked with Four Seasons Mumbai. The wines that we were going to try came from Topf winery (in existence since 1751) located in Kamptal in the Danube region known for its Gruner Veltliners and Rieslings. You can read more about Austrian wines here.
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