Monday, July 30, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
In many cultures, salt is associated with fertility.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
My neighbour, Mrs. Jagtap shows me her Maharashtrian style spicy mutton and rice preparation. Cooked mutton masala is simply layered with pre-cooked rice reducing the cooking time. (Please note: this recipe is tested, verified and altered for the reader’s convenience)
Mutton (bakra, mandi piece), Thigh Pieces 1 kg, cut into big chunks
Salt (Namak) to taste
Turmeric (Haldi) 1 teaspoon
Vegetable Oil (tel) 1tablespoon
Ginger 1 ½ inch piece
Garlic, peeled 7-8 cloves
Green Chilli 2-3, slit
Coriander leaves a handful
Garam Masala powder 1 teaspoon
Caramelised Onion ¼ cup (thinly sliced onion are deep fried until brown)
For The Mutton Masala
Vegetable Oil (Tel) 3 tablespoons
Onions, thinly sliced (Pyaz) 2 ½ cups
Freshly Grated Coconut (nariyal)1 ½ cup
Garlic,(Lasan) peeled a handful
Cloves (Lavang) 4-5
Cinnamon (Dal Chini) 1 ½ inch piece
Black peppercorn (Kali Mirch)3-4
Sesame seeds (Til)1tablespoon
Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 2 tablespoons
Poppy Seeds (khuskhus)1 tablespoon
Kanda Lasan Masala (Available at Pravin’s Pickles and Spices) 1 tablespoon
For the Rice
Long Grain Basmati Rice (Basmati Chaaval) 5 cups (Mrs. Jagtap likes to Use Daawat for her Biryani)
Vegetable Oil (tel) 1 tablespoon
Bay Leaf (Tej patta) 1
Cinnamon (Dal Chini) ½ inch
Salt to taste
To Finish the Biryani
Potato, peeled and sliced 2 cups
Caramelised onion slices 1 ½ cups (Thinly sliced onions are deep fried until brown)
Coriander Leaves a handful
Pre-cooked Mutton masala
Piece of Coal, red hot
Ghee 1 tablespoon
This is recipe is designed to be prepared in 2 parts, so that the work is stress-free and flavour of the marinated meat is better.
PART 1 (Day 1)
It is best to marinate the mutton a night before preparing the biryani, so that the flavours soak into the meat.
Wash and dry the cut up mutton pieces. In a bowl, mix oil, salt and turmeric with the mutton pieces and let it stand for half an hour.
Grind together all the ingredients of the 2nd marinade, except the caramelized onions. Add in the 2nd marinade paste to the marinated mutton along with caramelized onion, garam masala powder and let it stand 4-5 hours or overnight.
To make the mutton masala, heat oil in a pan and add in the sliced onion, cook the onions until they brown. Now, add in the grated coconut, garlic. Dry Roast the cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and kanda lasan masala and grind them together. Cook the mixture till it browns. Add the spice mixture to the pan and then grind it into a smooth paste with oil.
PART 2 (Day 2)
To cook the mutton, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan with a fitted lid (You can use a pressure cooker, without closing its lid). Add in the mutton pieces along with the mutton masala paste into the pan. Cook this mutton on low heat with a lid for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not add water. (Note: the cooking time can vary from 50 minutes to 1 hour 30minutes depending on the quality and freshness of the mutton) Bite into a piece on mutton to check whether it is softened and completely cooked. Check for salt, season if necessary.
Now, remove the mutton pieces out from the masala and dry cook them in a kadhai with fresh coriander leaves for a couple of minutes. This is done to add texture to the meat.
Add the pieces back into the masala and set aside.
Wash and drain the rice. To cook rice, heat a spoonful of oil and add in the whole spices. Once the spices have browned, add in the rice and sauté it in oil to coat the rice grains.
To cook in the same pan, add in salt and 1cup water for every cup of rice, that is, add in 5 cups of water to the rice. Cover with a lid, cook on high heat till the water comes to boil, then turn down the heat and cook till the water is absorbed.
To cook in a rice cooker, add the sautéd rice and spices to the rice cooker. Add salt and 1 ½ cup of water for every cup of rice, that is , add 7 ½ cups of water and cook until tender.
For the Biryani
First, divide the rice into two equal parts.
Take a heavy bottom handi or a degchi (Any deep heavy bottom pan can be used) and line the degchi with slices of potatoes on the base. This prevents the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, it also makes for a crispy khurchan at the bottom.
Add the first portion of rice and spread it evenly in the degchi and sprinkle caramelized onion, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves on top.
Finally, add in the top layer of rice over the mutton masala and top it with chopped garam masala powder, coriander leaves and caramelized onions.
To give it a smoky flavor or dum, place a steel bowl in the center of the biryani, push it deep and keep a red-hot piece of coal in it. Pour a spoonful of ghee on the hot coal and tightly seal the lid from all sides, keep a heavy weight on the lid to prevent the smoke from escaping. Place this degchi on a hot tava and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Monday, July 9, 2012
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.
Revival’s Rotla with gud and loni (Jaggery & White Butter)
Revival’s Aonla Murrabba
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Location: Behind Svenska Hotel, Andheri West, Mumbai
Date of Visit: 4th July, 2012 (Dinner)
You know when you’re young, some instances, small or big, make such an impact on who you shape up to be. I don’t remember what magazine or who wrote those magical words, but smiling at me, on top of the page were the words,
So, last evening when my sisters and friend accompanied me to Indigo Cafe, Andheri West, there was definitely no question about what I was going to order. I went through the menu anyway, it’s a hobby, to imagine all the gorgeous items listed when I am hungry, and salivate like a dog. The menu was a combination of French, Italian and contemporary cuisine. It also included breakfast classics like scrambled eggs with roesti and waffles with syrup. There was a range of different sandwiches and burgers, including BBQ Pork, salmon to safer picks like fried chicken burger with a side of potatoes also made into the listing. Selection of pastas was on the menu, including pink pepper gnocchi in the specials that made up for an impressive variety to choose from.
Herb Crusted Filet Mignon, was unfortunately not listed on the menu, I realized that it had taken me 12 years and they must’ve revised the menu several times over. I went for their Filet Mignon with jus and a side of garlic potato wedges. My younger sister chose a salmon burger while the older one went for a corn crusted, vegetarian, potato burger and our friend chose a fried chicken burger with a side of mashed potatoes.
Finally, I took a breath to look around. Hard wood furniture, no- cushions (at least in the outer section where we were seated.) Very simple looking aesthetics with a spacious setting and yet, with the mood lighting, candles and bowl full of white spider lilies which made the place look casual yet romantic.
The staff was on their toes and courteous. But I must mention that the glass they served me water in, had an eggy smell. It could have been a small slip up, but no one appreciates a stinky glass. In an udipi or chaiwala it can be excused. In Indigo café, I ask for a complaint card.
If you find three girls laughing hysterically on the next table, you can identify one of them as me. It was so hard to stop making silly jokes when our food arrived, for the fear of throwing it out of our noses. I am almost certain that the service staff and other diners thought we were ‘under the influence’ of something.
The best tasting item, my younger sister’s salmon burger, great fish, great flavor. You can see that fresh dill and salad along with the spiced fish in the picture above.
The safest choice was clearly the fried chicken burger, which tasted decent, like any other fried chicken burger, nothing extraordinary.
The veggie burger below was more studded with corn than it was crusted, as described in the menu. Not a treat for a corn-hater as my older sister. I tried the veggie burger made with fresh, soft cheese with the sweetness of corn and I liked it.
Let’s get to the point now, the Filet Mignon was simple and there were no fireworks whatsoever. Either the gentleman in the magazine had questionable taste buds or in 12 years the Filet Mignon at Indigo, is no more the best of its kind. I believe there is some magic in simplicity, and yet the best chefs can make a simple dish with subtle flavours taste great. I can safely say, there wasn’t one of the best Chefs that created that Filet Mignon, it was bordering on Mediocre and below average.
Don’t get me wrong; my high expectation hasn’t blurred my judgement, I speak from experience. I have eaten many a rare steak, globally. In fact, the first time I ate rare pepper steak in Sauce Diane back in college (IHM Mumbai), when we were learning Flambe techniques and gueridon service, I had 7 of those and I can tell you those bad boys were 10 folds better than the steak I had last evening. The best one that I can re-collect though was in a little place when I was studying Nottingham, it was rare steal with cognac, cream and green peppercorn sauce and those flavours are still etched in my memory. Getting back to the point, this was perhaps one of the steaks that was barely bordering towards enjoyment, but definitely not what I had read about and expected.
That thing About This Place is that it definitely creates the perfect setting for a meal that I will remember, with its beautiful décor, pleasant staff and a memorable evening. What brought it all together was that smiling security guy ,Valet guy and the memory of those words that will always remain with me, an Indigo Café that made me realize my love for rare steak.