It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
The mountains can be both awe-inspiring as well as overwhelming. Their grandeur can make you feel like an inconsequential speck in the larger scheme of things, which is exactly how I felt driving around in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand during our four-day Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal. I, a self proclaimed beach bum with an exaggerated fear of heights, finally learnt to give in to nature, live in the moment and embrace the mountains. ‘Respect the mountains, and she’ll respect you back,’ my grandfather’s saying came echoing back to me.
Garhwal is a mountainous region in the state of Uttarakhand; it’s vibrant Garhwali culture has remained overshadowed and underexposed over the decades. Their simple, hearty cuisine and sustainable cooking methods are also lesser known among the larger population; which is why the Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal organized by the JW Marriott Walnut Grove Resort and Spa, Mussoorie in collaboration with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of the APB Cook Studio was the perfect way to acquaint myself with their culture and cuisine. Along the way I fell in love with a region I knew very little about, a cuisine I had never eaten before, and people we never knew yet they welcomed us into their world with open arms. It was love at first sight. And/or first bite.
The heat in the month of May was absolutely unbearable. All it made me want to do was curl up inside an air conditioned room, and sip on smoothies. Luckily, I got a chance to escape to the hills of Mussoorie, to explore a lesser known cuisine. But more on that in later blogposts. Back home in Mumbai, the eating out was kept to a bare minimum courtesy the excruciating heat. Here is a round up of the restaurants and dishes that made it to my May Food Favourites list –
1. For those Sindhi Sunday breakfasts – Sindhu Sweets, Khar.
Let the aroma of freshly fried pakwans lead you to Sindhu Sweets, which is located at a two minute walk from Khar railway station. This sweet shop specializes in a few Sindhi dishes such as Dal Pakwaan, Aloo Tuk, Sindhi Kadhi Chawal, and more. Most of these are weekly specials and only available on a Sunday morning.
Third time is a charm at Henpecked. The location that houses Henpecked was previously occupied by Farmer and Sons, and a restaurant called Nico Bombay before that. Now I haven’t dined at Henpecked’s two predecessors, but from what I hear the concept of all three restaurants remains rooted at the ‘farm to table’ movement. Read: fresh, healthy, locally sourced produce that won’t make you feel guilty even if you indulge. So much so, that they’ve carried forward signature dishes and popular items from the previous menus into that of Henpecked’s.
Henpecked sets off a fun, relaxed vibe the minute you enter. A large glass cabinet frames one wall and is filled with cute paraphernalia, knick knacks, and picture books. The space, though small in surface area, still manages to not feel cluttered or cramped. A rarity in this city where small restaurants means your knocking elbows with the diner on the next table. Our server tells us that shifting the bar to the back of the restaurant and not along one side has done the trick.
I was neck deep in commitments during the entire month of April – both on the personal and professional front. But that does not mean I didn’t eat my way across the city as I normally do. The end of another month brings with it yet another round up of my food favourites. Here is a list of favourite restaurants, dishes, and home chefs that I tried and that made the cut to be featured on my April Food Favourites list.
1. When you can’t decide between ice cream or paan – K. Rustom’s Paan Ice Cream
You have got to be living under some sort of rock or living inside a hipster bubble if you’ve never had the old school ice cream sandwiches from K. Rustom in Churchgate. Creamy ice cream in the most delectable flavours come sandwiched between two wafer biscuits to create an enjoyable experience. It’s such great fun biting into these ice cream sandwiches without any spoons or plates. It’s a race to finish off your ice cream before the summer heat melts it onto your Zara top. (In my case, the summer heat usually wins. It’s fun nevertheless.)
I am a huge Japanese food aficionado. I crave sushi in the middle of a random day at work. I dream of beautiful bowls of ramen – each put together so intricately and painstakingly such that they resemble a piece of art. I swear I cried a little bit when I saw the Ivan Ramen episode of Chef’s Table. And Wasabi bhujia is my current obsession in life. You’ll get the drift.
My interest towards Japanese food started after I begun reading Haruki Murakami novels where the author interweaves food so seamlessly into the narrative. My love affair with Japanese food started during my trip to Singapore last year where I ensured I tried the best South East Asian cuisine this foodie paradise has to offer. Lots of sushi, sashimi, ramen bowls, and rice bowls that the locals call Donburi or ‘Don’ were devoured.
I’m always on the lookout for good (re: authentic) Japanese food in the city and there are very few places that serve the real deal. So when The Leela offered to host us for some Japanese food one evening, I cancelled all plans and made my way over to Andheri East. As a part of their recurrent Cherry Blossom Festival, the property is serving up a variety of Japanese delicacies all this month at Citrus – their global dining restaurant. Now while I couldn’t make it for the Cherry Blossom flowering festival in Japan this year, the food festival at The Leela would have to suffice.