When I think of Indian royalty and the food they must have eaten one dish comes to mind – Biryani. The king of all rice dishes, is indeed a dish made for the kings. I think of meat, vegetables, dry fruits, ghee, spices laden in aromatic basmati rice. But the biryani has humble variants too – the pulaos and tehris – food of the common man. The biryani of Persian origin is such a versatile dish, with each region having their own adaptation.
Highlighting biryanis across the country and showcasing the diversity of this dish is the Jashn-E-Biryani festival at the Neel restaurants in Mahalakshmi and Andheri. Chef Mukhtar Qureshi of Neel, who is a genius when it comes to Indian cuisine, has come up with an exhaustive menu of 12 biryanis (six vegetarian, and six non-vegetarian) that pay respect to this royal food. I got to sample the entire menu and I was left spell bound at not just the biryanis but the minute attention spent at even the accompaniments to each. Without further ado, here goes my biryani trail in random order!
Kareli ka Dum Doodhiya Pulao: (Rs. 885/-)
Appearances can be deceptive when it comes to the looks of this biryani. I was expecting it to be bland, but the rice is immensely flavored with the lamb stock and meat it is cooked in. It comes with the most well-done lamb shanks and spicy lamb koftas, that makes this one amazing pulao! The Gosht shorba that accompanies it was a spectacular meat flavored broth that would go perfectly on a cold winter night!
I love small restaurants with character. Ones with feeling. And a back story attached. Most of these places are run by families and have been in the business for generations. They are the ones that serve hearty food, in a cozy setting without pinching your pocket. One such tiny place we dined at the other day during our escapade into Fort’s by-lanes was The Teapot Cafe.
Situates in a leafy lane, The Teapot Cafe is a tiny, blink-and-miss place. The sign board with a teapot dangling is what led us in. You feel like you’ve entered into someone’s living room when you step inside. Old tiles, couches, mismatched chairs, curios and teapots! Tons and tons of teapots wherever you look. The smiling, bubbly Delna Palia who owns and runs the cafe, apart from pursuing a budding law career told us about her fascination for teapots and how she loves collecting them and receiving them as gifts. So when her father gave her an old office space to convert into a cafe, she could think of no better theme or name for it! The cafe has such a vintage, Parsi home feel to it, except that it wasn’t as clean or spotless.
I revised a bit of school Geography before attempting this post. I learnt that India has one of the largest coastlines, spanning across nine different states and measuring 7,517 kilometers in length. Along with this vaste expanse of land comes diverse people, languages, and of course food! This is why we are able to enjoy a variety of fish, seafood, spices, coconut and lots more, that are typical of coastal cooking. Paying respect to our coastal heritage, The Trident at Bandra Kurla Complex is holding a #CoastToCoast food festival, highlighting coastal cuisine from the nine different states – spanning from Gujarat in the west, to Kerala in the south, to West Bengal in the east.
022,The Trident, BKC is their all day restaurant which serves up a pretty elaborate buffet counter. Named after Mumbai’s telephone code, 022 is a large space done up in neutrals, but it transformed the night we visited. From garlands adorning the door at the entrance, to diya stands, to flower decorations, the coastal feel was very evident. The food counters also had traditional influences incorporated – from coconuts to a sail boat. My table also had coastal elements as a centerpiece – some spices, coconut, and banana chips! I love when restaurants take the special effort to match the decor with the food. It converts a meal into an overall ‘dining experience’.
Hoppipola is a song by the band Sigur Ros from their 2005 album Takk… It means “jumping into puddles” in Icelandic.
This is how Urban Dictionary defines the latest bar to hit Mumbai’s nightlife scene – Hoppipola. No there are no real life puddles here, only the intention to bring out the child in you. Hoppipola aims to evoke nostalgia with childhood games and memories, all with a grown up twist. I was lucky to get a preview of this bar which has traveled all the way from Pune and Bangalore after having successfully established itself there. Read on for my Hoppipola experience with a childhood twist. Watch out for the puddles!
Ghar Ghar Khelein?:
Situated in the most nondescript, unassuming location in a Khar by-lane, I went not expecting much from the place. The first thing that strikes you as you enter is the wooden Aztec inspired door, and you know the fun has just begun. The place is spacious, and done up in shades of white and blue. It reminded me of The Little Door – Andheri’s famous watering hole, in terms of decor, albeit much more spacious. The outdoor al-fresco section comes with potted plants, a communal table in the center, mosaic tiles and a tree right in the middle! A large signage similar to ones we see outside churches, with a message that keeps changing, was another fun element.
There’s nothing like getting to experience new world cuisines. I strongly believe food has the power to make you travel to any destination in the world, only via your taste buds. My recent destination was China – getting to eat and understand the Chinese Hot Pot at China House, Grand Hyatt.
The Hot Pot, also known as the Steamboat method of cooking originated in Mongolia more than 1000 years ago. This communal style of dining involves a large steaming pot of stock simmering on the center of your table, and the diners take turns dunking in vegetables, noodles and assorted meat into the pot. You then allow your personalized concoction to brew on the table, which you later gobble up with various dipping sauces.
The Hot Pot concept, though previously launched in the city in a couple of stand alone restaurants, it is yet to gain popularity. China House has specialty in-house Chef of Chinese origin – Chef Xiang Bin Li work on this concept for their diners. Here you can pick your choice of broth, noodles, vegetables, seafood, and thinly sliced meat off their pre-fixed Hot Pot menu, which is on till the end of this month.