A Punjabi food haven in Mumbai

Being anywhere remotely close to Matunga East for me has always meant eating at one of the South Indian joints. A lot of our working saturdays (my office is in Matunga West) are planned around going for a Keralan meal at Mani’s Lunch Home or wolfing down hot rasam-vadas and paniyarams at Arya Bhawan. Two weeks ago when I planned a trip to Shanmukhanand in Sion to attend a concert, my brain was already hatching ideas to eat at either Arya Bhawan or the legendary Mysore Cafe.

On Sunday afternoon we drove to Sion and I suddenly realized that I was a hop, skip and jump away from Sion Koliwada. Which meant that Chawla’s chole-kulche joint mentioned by Gaurav on his blog (Eating Out In Bombay) was somewhere here. I asked around and we paced towards the area which was soon to become a mini Punjabi food paradise for me in Mumbai.

The tandoors (clay ovens) outside every shop took me back to my childhood when every summer holiday was spent eating rotis straight out of these tandoors. My nana-nani’s (maternal grandparents) village in district Udhamsingh Nagar was inhabited by Punjabis and there wasn’t a single house without a large tandoor in its courtyard. After the last game of eye-spy or langdi-kabaddi when we walked back home in the evening, calls of “rotti kha le” (come have food) from every home would entice us; their doors always stood ajar to welcome whoever was passing by.

Back in Sion Koliwada I was walking past counters lined with imartis and mathris and shops filled with jars full of pickles. But the partially downed shutters and cold tandoors made my heart sink. The Gods of food were definitely smiling on us cause we spotted Chawla’s at a corner, tandoor still fired up and people still sitting and eating.

Few rickety tables and wooden benches made the road-side eatery’s sitting area. An old, Punjabi uncle took our order – 1 plate kulche-chole, 1 plate chole-bhature, 2 chaas, 1 plate dahi all for just Rs 90.

Practiced hands of the cook stuffed dough with spicy potato mix, rolled it into a round disk and slapped the disk against the inner wall of tandoor to let it roast. As the kulcha cooked slowly my mind wandered to a similar road-side dhaba in Amritsar where I had eaten the best kulchas of my life almost 10 years ago. The potato stuffed flat-bread with crispy layers, laden with butter and served with spicy chole has been one of my best food memories. Mouth salivating and tummy rumbling in anticipation, we sat down to eat. The mashed, dark brown chole were the exact replica of my Amritsar memories and baloon like puffed bhature were stretchy, like a bhatura should be. The kulcha didn’t have so many layeres and wasn’t so crisp but every inch of it was stuffed with delighful potato masala. We washed this down with thick, cold chaas flavoured with cumin powder and coriander.

Our hearts completely satisfied, our tummies slightly heavier, as we walked back it was the sweet shop distracting us again. The good fortune was still shining on me and I found chhena murki – sweet made of cottage cheese and dipped in sugar syrup, something I was craving for two days ago. Mouth stuffed with chhena murkis and stomach full with kulche-chole, we walked out of the mini Punjab in the heart of Mumbai.

Potato and spinach salad with yogurt dressing

Salads; they are healthy, fresh and yum and I can live on them forever. This new salad that I tried was inspired from a recipe on sanjeevkapoor.com. It’s a jhatpat recipe and makes for a great lunch and what’s not to love about a salad which has potatoes and spinach in it? Don’t believe me? Ask the minions….
Or Popeye…

Or just try this recipe…


Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients
Potatoes – 3 medium
Spinach (blanched and chopped) – 1 cup
Macaroni (cooked al dante) – 1 cup
Red and yellow bell peppers (chopped) – 1 cup
Shallots (finely chopped) – 1 sprig
Olive oil – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For dressing
Yogurt – 1 cup
Garlic (chopped) – 2 cloves
Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method

  • Pre-heat oven at 200 degree Celcius.
  • Peel and cut potatoes into big cubes.
  • Grease the baking dish, place the potatoes on it, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper on them and let them roast for 20 minutes. Prepare rest of the stuff (blanching spinach, cooking pasta, preparing the dressing etc.) while the potatoes are cooking.
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan and saute the shallots. Keep the aside.
  • Mix all the ingredients of the dressing with the yogurt and whisk it.
  • Once the potatoes are crispy and brown mix them with spinach, macaroni, bell peppers and shallots. Add the lime juice and mix in the dressing.
  • A glass of white wine will go well with it.

My Doodle recipe is a part of Easy Doodle Recipe contest at BlogAdda.com in association with TastyKhana.com

Baby potato and bacon salad + Happy Birthday blog

The blog turns two today, it has been a very delicious ride so far. I started this food blog in 2011 after I started food writing for burrp’s features section Know Your City. Initially, the idea was to write restaurant reviews but the blog kept growing and I started posting recipes that I was trying at home. The blog inspired me to bake more often and try out ingredients that I had never used before. Thanks blog and Happy Birthday.

To celebrate the blog’s birthday I thought of making something with bacon, my new found love :). I decided to go with this simple Roasted baby potatoes and bacon salad topped with caramelized onions. The dish tastes wonderful with different sort of flavours and textures; the crunchy bacon, sweet onions and pepper roasted potatoes, what’s not to like about it. I got the inspiration for the recipe from thecozyapron.com. Here’s the recipe with a slight twist.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
Baby potatoes – 250 gms
Onion – 1 large
Bacon – 3-4 strips (depends on how much bacon heavu you want it to be)
Black pepper – 8 (lightly crushed)
Maple syrup – 1 tbsp
Parsley – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Kosher Salt – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 2 tsp for potatoes, 2 tsp for caramelizing onions, 1 tsp for frying bacon

Method:

  • Preheat the oven at 180 degree celcius.
  • Peel and half the potatoes. Take them in baking dish, add salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Roast the potatoes in oven for about 30 minutes or till they are brown and crisp.
  • Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan for caramelized onions, throw in onions and sugar and fry till they turn brown. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan, chop the bacon strips and fry them in the oil. Add maple syrup. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  • Once potatoes are roasted move them in the serving bowl. Top them with maple bacon, caramelized onions and chopped parsley. Serve.

Grab a chilled beer too.

My Doodle recipe is a part of Easy Doodle Recipe contest at BlogAdda.com in association with TastyKhana.com

Food Review: Yauatcha, Bandra Kurla Complex

I wanted to visit the dimsum and tea house in Bandra Kurla Complex since the time it opened. The concept of pairing dimsum with teas was something that was new and interesting for me. Finally had a chance to visit the restaurant when they launched a new menu, basically they added new dishes in the already existing menu.

I went for lunch and Sandhya Johari, the Marketing Manager at Ka Hospitality kept me company and sportingly recommended her favourite dishes from the menu.

I started with a kiwi and lime cooler with a mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian dimsum; spicy sauce shredded fish, black pepper lamb roll – lamb filling wrapped in Chinese cabbage topped with black pepper sauce, crispy veg cheung fang – vegetarian tempura crispy rolls wrapped in translucent steamed rice sheets. The crispiness of cheung fang was well balanced with the beautiful soft stuffing inside and what made it even better was the hot soy sauce poured over it right at the table. But the lamb rolls are the winner for me. The flavour was very subtle and the lamb stuffing was so tender that it almost melted in my mouth. 

Half way through eating the dimsum I decided to try a tea. On the tea expert’s recommendation I ordered a blue roast tea. Most of the teas are meant to be had without sugar, an odd taste for me but I tried and trust me it was really comforting.


For the mains I decided to go for honey smoked spare ribs – succulent pork spare ribs glazed with honey and smoked in house with jasmine tea and Malay lotus leaf rice – fried rice cooked with veggies wrapped in lotus leaf. Well, the spare ribs were one of the most tender and crispy pork preparations I’ve ever had. It had a nice sweet+spicy flavour with an added touch of smokiness. The Malay lotus leaf rice came packed in a dry lotus leaf and was fun to eat right from the little leaf parcel. While I was too full to order more I’d recommend that you order the rice with some sauce since it’s a little dry.


Ordering dessert was a little tough given to all the beautiful looking sweetness I had seen on the dessert counter as I entered the restaurant. On Sandhya’s recommendation I tried the jasmine cake – jasmine infused milk chocolate mousse, layered with feuilletine, sacher and jasmine ganache. The plating was enough for me to start drooling. As I cut through the soft cake there was a hard layer of chocolate inside. The cake was served with a dollop of ice-cream and chocolate praline on the side. With a typical case of ‘pet to bhar gaya par dil nahi bhara‘ I finished my meal.


On my way out I spotted the pretty looking raspberry delice and kicked myself for not trying it and after reading The Big Bhookad’s review I kick myself some more.

Must try –  Black pepper lamb roll, honey smoked spare ribs, jasmine cake.

Food Hunt: Matunga Food Trail – In Search for Sappadu

this article was first published on burrp!
http://bit.ly/IV1T9h

South Indian food lovers of the city, move beyond Mysore Café and Café Madras because Matunga (E) has a lot more to offer when it comes to a delicious and fulfilling sappadu.

In a place like Matunga where every second shop sells great coffee and the smallest restaurant makes delicious idlis it was tough to pick few best places. Still, I followed my nose and listened to the voices (grumbling that is) coming from my hungry tummy and hopped in to four South Indian joints to eat a hearty meal.

Arya Bhavan
Right opposite Matunga station, this restaurant is a no nonsense place. Get in, eat, burrp and get out. There are two levels of seating. The upper level keeps you away from the crowd and chaos of the street but if you are a centimeter taller than 5’4” I’d say that you sit on the ground level. Why? You’ll know once you visit the place.

The food starts coming in within five minutes of placing your order. Wadas dipped in piping hot rasam and coin idlis are the best to start with. Don’t forget to order ghee and gun powder (dry chutney made with groundnuts and chilly powder) with your bite sized idlis. Idiyappam with coconut stew and paniyaram are good for the second round. Make sure you are served both red and green chutneys. Bisibele Bhaat at the end will sum up the meal just fine. It’s ok if you give your dosa a miss; after all South Indian food is not just about idlis, dosas and uttappams. If the food induces sleep you can always have a cup of filter kaapi.
Kharcha: Less than Rs 100 for one

Mani’s Lunch Home
As me and my colleagues stepped in to this restaurant, one of us asked, “khane mein kya milega?” “Khana”, pat came the reply. Yes, this place is that direct. Mani’s Lunch Home is located in a very old building in one of the small lanes (the one with the temples and the flower market) of Matunga East and is hard to spot. But if you ask around you’ll be pointed in the right direction.

Lunch time is the best time to go there for the South Indian thali. It’s unlimited and you can hog as much as you can. A regular thali includes rasam, sambhar, kadhi, two vegetables that change every day, curd, achar, papad, chapati and rice followed by chaas and Mysore Pak for dessert. The food is homemade, less spicy and a complete VFM. Be cautious or the over enthusiastic waiter will keep serving you and you’ll end up with a bloated tummy.
Kharcha: Rs 100 for a thali

Photo courtsey – @ceetee

A Ramanayak Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding
This restaurant with a never ending name is bang opposite Arya Bhavan and serves thali during lunch time. Unlike Mani’s the food here is served on a banana leaf. Dishes are more or less the same with wider range of sweets available like gulab jamun, gajar halwa, shrikhand etc.

There’s no concept of having-the-whole-table-for-yourself here. You might have to sit next to a stranger who might get a little too authentic with his eating style.
Kharcha: Rs 100 for one

Ayyappan Dosa Stall
If you are not one of those hoity-toity types you’ll love this roadside stall which is packed at all times of the day. There’s no place to sit hence you have to stand and eat. The order is served within five minutes. The must tries on their menu are pongal, upma, Mysore dosa, medu wada and dal wada. The food is bound to leave you utterly satisfied.
Kharcha: Less than Rs 100for one

Next time you are around Matunga make sure you eat at one of these places. And on your way back home you can pick up some filter coffee, Mysore Pak and South Indian ingredients from the market.