Dear Creatures of The Deep Sea,
My love affair with you started as a chubby three year old when I had my first taste of batter fried Bombil from my mother’s plate. It was love at first bite. My obsession with you’ll only grew stronger with age, and taste. I remember looking forward to Sunday morning fish shopping sessions with mom – my eyes glistening when I’d see you’ll naked in the fisher woman’s basket, my nose sniffing the aroma you’ll would let out, my fingers itching to hold your slimy scaly bodies.
This is what Hansel and Gretel felt like, I thought. All around me gleaming, pristine counters of the choicest desserts, prettiest cakes, and exquisite macarons stare back at me, inviting me into their world. I was at Star Anise patisserie in Bandra, one weekday afternoon, making a lunch out of sugary desserts. Calories be damned!
In one corner, behind a gleaming glass counter I can see an artist in a chef’s hat rolling out sushi with precision and intense concentration that the art deserves. Right behind me, I can hear the sizzle and boom from the Teppanyaki counter – another Chef whipping up a dish with the theatrical flair that this Japanese form of cooking demands. The primary, open kitchen has an army of diligent chefs, painstakingly stir frying veggies, boiling noodles, or seasoning meat – all under the watchful eye of Commander and Head Chef Liang. There was so much to take in, so much to gaze around at, and so many cuisines to explore at the Pan Asian, at ITC Maratha.
The ITC Maratha, has carved a niche in the Indian cuisine department, famous for the ITC kaali dal at the highly acclaimed Peshawri and Dum Pukht. Among the seven dining establishments that this sprawling five star property boasts of, the Pan Asian remains highly underrated and deserves a spot in the sun. The restaurant is ‘Pan Asian’ in the truest sense, with cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia on offer.
Food has the wonderful power to make you travel to far off places, while being deeply seated at home. I had been meaning to taste Gitika Saikia’s home-style cooking for the longest time now, and take a food-cation with her to tribal Assam. It is thanks to home chefs like Gitika, enterpreneurs like Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal and APB Cook Studio‘s Culinary Legacy series that I was introduced to a cuisine unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted.
Rongali Bihu or Assamese New Year, celebrates the time of harvest and is incomplete without food. The Rongali Bihu meal at the APB Cook Studio was a delightful afternoon spent with like minded foodies where I learnt more about this ‘exotic’ cuisine from Gitika, sampled tribal Assamese fare, and even shook a leg or two to the Bihu dance.