Friday, May 13, 2016

Kitchen Experiments: French Toast Omelette

Sometimes, Goddess Annapurna smiles on you in the most unexpected ways. Yesterday, I was looking for a quick-fix breakfast dish of eggs and bread (pao). French Toast (that divine marriage of egg and bread) has always occupied a special place in my foodie memory, and in the past I have tried (to not much success) to recreate supreme fluffiness in scrambled eggs by adding pieces of bread in the beaten eggs (theoretically, the bread should have fluffed up with reality, it became a soggy mess)

But yesterday, the Goddess bestowed her blessing, the idea bulb sparked on in my head and in 5 minutes flat, I had the delicious breakfast dish of my dreams- a fluffy pillowy omelette with crisp golden-brown edges.

Here's how you can make it:

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Making Time: 2 minutes

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pao (day old, or better still, kept in the fridge so it goes all brittle)
  • 2 small green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • Few leaves of pudina (mint)
  • Splash of milk (2 tablespoons, maybe?)
  • Salt
  • Oil (butter would be better)

  • Cut the pao into 1.5-inch cubes.
  • Lightly whip the eggs with salt, milk, chopped chilies and hand-torn pudina- no need to whisk a lot to get air into the mixture, just enough to mix it all up
  • Add the oil/butter to a small non-stick pan (7 inches diameter or so) and turn on the gas to low
  • Add half the bread cubes to the egg mix and turn them over so all sides absorb the egg. Since the bread is dry, this wont take more than 15-20 seconds
  • Place the bread cubes into the hot pan one by one (make a single layer)
  • Tumble in the rest of the bread cubes, stir well and empty the bowl into the pan (over the bread already there) and shake it around so that the bread cubes form a single layer and the liquid egg forms a base that binds all the bread together
  • Cook on low flame till it starts smelling divine and the omelette starts separating from the pan at the edges
  • Turn the flame to medium, drizzle some extra oil along the edges and let the omelette's edges crisp up
  • Slide a thin spatula under the fluffy omelette and flip it over
  • Turn off the gas and let the bottom side cook in the pan's heat
  • Eat within seconds of cooking for maximum eating pleasure! No ketchup needed.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Foodie Crawl through SoBo

Stop 1: Som@Dome, Marine Drive

So my dear dear friend, no, make that soul-sister, Som aka Somu aka V was in town and it was given that we would meet for an evening of  food and talk. I always try and find places that will make our limited 'dates' memorable. So it was with surprise and consternation that I realised I had never taken her to Dome, the rooftop lounge at the Intercontinental at Marine Drive. It had to be remedied immediately!  So our first stop was the Dome.

We reached at 5:30 pm and got our pick of tables on the terrace. Yay! We enjoyed the glorious sunset show- skies changing from gold to orange to pink to grey as the sun sank into the Arabian sea- over California Maki Rolls, Stir Fried Prawns and Spanish Meatballs. Food was okay-okay, pics were great and conversation was ace! :)

 Stop 2: Kebab - E- Delhi, Fort

So while we were nibbling on the sushi, Somu expressed a desire to eat some chicken tikka at a no-frills place like Bade Miya. I whipped out my magic wand aka Zomato and figured that a joint called Kebab-E-Delhi was ranked higher than both Bade Miya and Ayub's AND was located an easy cab ride away in Fort. So we wrapped up our mehfil at Dome and found ourselves at KED. The stall looked like the steel kiosks that sell sugarcane juice (was probably refurbished from one), was well lit and ready to welcome us, the first customers for the evening. The owner of the stall, Mr Kundan Gawde was very forthcoming, taking us through how a chicken baida roti is made, how he came into this business, and how tying up with food delivery apps like Tiny Owl and Zomato helps his business. He gave up a steady job in shipping to start KED with a partner who was already established in the food business. But a couple of months ago, the partner bowed out to start a venture in apparel, and since then Kundan has been running the show. Its heartening to see small-scale entrepreneurs embracing ecommerce with such gusto!

Coming to the chicken, we had asked for Chicken Reshmi Tikka. A couple of minutes on the coal-fired grill and we were given 4 big chunks of juicy, gently spiced chicken with yummy charred edges. Served with green chutney, onion and tangy brown chutney, it was simple and tasty. :)

Stop 3: Country of Origin, Napeansea Road

So while planning this evening, I had asked for recos from friends at work. C-O-O aka Country Of Origin (pronounced as 'Coo' by the enthusiastic recommender) was one of the most enthusiastically recommended places, so Som and I took a cab to Napeansea Road for the sweet conclusion to our evening. COO is a brightly lit, surprisingly large shop that still manages to look cosy. Maybe its the vintage furniture strewn around, or maybe its just the LOADS of yummy desserts all beckoning seductively- cookies, brownies, cakes, eclairs, dessert shots, mousses, and the currently trending dessert jars. There is a dizzying variety of sweet treats, each with its country of origin mentioned alongside its label (get it?) Som and I were pretty stuffed by this time, so we split one dessert- the Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Mousse. Unfortunately COO is a take-away joint and does not offer seating space (despite the multiple vintage chairs and sofas all over the shop)....but the guy manning the counter told us that we could park ourselves on the bench in the tiny front yard of the shop, and even gave us glasses of water on request. Why not just turn the place into a sit-down dessert cafe, is the question I would dearly like to ask the owners!

Coming back to the mousse, it was silky smooth and dense and the hazelnuts strewn over the top were buttery and delicious. Som loved the dessert and while all elements were right, somehow I didn't LOVE it- it just didn't hit the spot. The soft-centred Belgian chocolate muffin (with surprise chunks of dark and white chocolate hidden inside) and lemon square (lemon tart filling baked on atop a crumb base instead of inside a tart shell) which I packed up to take home for les parents were more my kind of dessert! The muffin was softly indulgent while the lemon square had just the right balance of zingy lemony curd and buttery base. Droolicious!

Am planning a similar foodie crawl in Bandra-West for Somu before she flies back home to her nest in the US. Any recommendations? Please leave them as comments!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Restaurant Review: Yolkshire, Kothrud, Pune

Calling 'Yolkshire' a restaurant might be pushing things a bit, but if you aren't too fussy about ambience and space, then this cutely-named eatery in Kothrud is sure to make you (and your tummy) smile.

Located among the row of shops in front of the Karishma Housing Society (by itself a landmark- tell the auto guy "Karishma" and he is will take you there with no mistakes),Yolkshire is a tiny place with 2 tables squeezed indoors and 2-3 tables breathing in relative freedom outside.  But what the place lacks in space, it makes up for it in the large-ness of the menu.

As evident from the name, Yolkshire is devoted to all dishes egg-y. Apart from the pasta, salads, sandwiches and burgers sections (a move I guess to appeal to non-eggetarians), every dish is an ode to the humble egg. (An aside- eggs, in the Western world at least, have become humble only in the last half century or so- in the late 1800s and early 1900s they were considered 'rich', a rarity that poor folks couldn't afford)

From various types of stuffed omelettes and fritatas and egg-white omelettes to scrambled eggs and savoury French Toasts and Eggs Benedict/Mornay to Scotch Eggs to Eggs made to order to combos of the above with juice/salad etc - the multi-page menu covers all egg classics. There are even exotic egg dishes from Thailand and Lebanon. And they give you a choice of how hearty you want your dish too! (2/3/5 eggs)

Frankly Speaking- Egg White Omelette draped around frankfurter in tangy sauce, Rs. 155
We tried the Frankly Speaking (egg white omelette draped over a frankfurter and filled with tangy sauce), and as our side dishes, chose the olives and parsley potatoes. The omelette and the sauce were tasty, but there was something odd about the too-soft frank- or maybe I would have just preferred a heartier, meatier, more toothsome and more spiced sausage inside. Served with 2 toasted-and-buttered slices of white bread, this breakfast was filling enough for one, especially if accompanied by tea/coffee/hot chocolate. And at Rs. 155, its a good deal.

Chicken and Cheese French Toast, Rs. 140
Next we tried the Chicken and Cheese French Toast (Rs 140) which was kind of underwhelming- a sandwich of sorts made up of French Toast (under-seasoned) swaddling a filling of shredded chicken and cheese in white sauce (also under-seasoned). You can give this a pass, especially when there are other dishes like Khagina (Parsi Burji) and Scotch Eggs on the menu!

Last we tried an omelette from the  "meal omelette' section, the Omelette Reve (Rs 130) Your standard-issue omelette, stuffed with diced chicken in a tomato-ey sauce, served with baked beans and toast, was, well, middle of the road. The chicken, while nice, could have been tastier/better spiced!

We ended our brunch with glossy dark hot chocolate (yummy! Two thumbs up) and the Yorkshire Tart (sweet and light but no marked taste other than that of the maple syrup it was served with)

Will I visit again? Undoubtedly. There's pages and pages of the menu I need to explore, the prices aren't a deterrent to my culinary explorations, its located in a nice accessible location AND its open for breakfast. Yolkshire, here I come again!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend Getaway: The great food and wine escape!

Recently, I attended a food-and-wine weekend getaway at Nasik, as a guest of the Wandering Foodie. While not having to pay WAS a sweetener, the weekend was so perfect that its perfection would not have been marred even if I had to pay for it.

What made the weekend different from the usual wine weekends was the emphasis on food- equal to, if not more than on the wines. And what raised the uniqueness quotient even higher was that the food wasn't sophisticated French or Italian or even modern was rustic, true-blue Khandeshi food.

Khandesh is a belt in northwestern stretch of Maharashtra, and while Nasik is 60km from Khandesh, the local cuisine is heavily influenced by Khandeshi flavours and tastes. Khandeshi food is high on spice and resonant with complex masalas and gravies, a real treat to the tastebuds.  I was really curious to see how this hearty peasant fare would pair with summery wines from the vineyards around!

The weekend began with a 4-4.5 hour bus ride (very comfortable) from Mumbai to Nasik. We (Agent J and I) were picked up at the bus's drop off point by Wandering Foodie's car and taken 40 km out of the city (towards the famous Tryimbakeshwar temple) to E&G Green Valley Resort. The resort is an oasis of modern convenience and luxury in the midst of a rocky, lonely landscape dotted with a few trees. Yet the surroundings don't look desolate or arid, but mystical.

The resort is well maintained and welcoming with large rooms (and villas if you like) that are well furnished and well-equipped, like any good 4 star hotel.  After freshening up after our long journey, J and I headed to the villa the organisers had rented for a quick round of introductions to the rest of the group and a delicious lunch on the lawn of the villa, featuring Khandeshi specialities like the combo of Batti+Dal+Vangyachi Bhaji (baked flour balls with dal and aubergine subzi) and the amazingly tangy-tasty mutton curry, served with sides of bhakri, sliced tomatoes and onions and the tongue-numbing thecha- a brilliant combination of roughly-pounded green chillies, garlic and salt. Each dish was paired with a suitable wine from the nearby wineyards. For example, a full-bodied red wine accompanied the mutton curry, and the pairing worked really well, with the wine emphasizing the umami flavour of the mutton. What was even better, was how this happened was explained by Rahul, one of the founders of Wandering Foodie- the tannins in the wine draw out the meat's taste. Super! For dessert, there were thick, sweet puran polis paired with a sweet dessert white wine. Brilliant!  Sugar, wine and sun....the perfect ingredients for a happily buzzing afternoon!

Mutton curry, bhakri, thecha, - mutton paired with red wine

After an hour or so of rest in our rooms, we assembled in the lobby to be ferried across in cars to the Zampa Grover vineyard, approximately an hour's drive away. The route was scenic to say the least with astonishingly straight and sheer cliffs rising dramatically against the cloudless sky.

The sun was setting as we reached the vineyard, turning the sky into a blazing riot of pink and coral and orange. One of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen! Especially when seen from the top of One Tree Hill, a small hillock on whose slopes the wines stretch in straggly rows. 


Our guide at the vineyard took us around the wines and the factory and explained the wine-making process. That by itself wasn't so interesting, maybe because we visited when the factory had shut for the day and we didn't see the actual live production in action.

But we soon came to the piece de resistance of the evening- our guide led us into the pitch-dark Barrel Room, ostensibly to show us the casks in which the vintage wines are aged....and then flicked on a switch to illuminate a long, polished dining table, laid out with elegant table settings of wine glasses (3 apiece) , flowers and plates of cheese and crackers. Oh so elegant! The table was lit only by small overhead hanging lights, giving an intimate and luxurious feel to the room. At every place was a booklet introducing the various wines of Zampa Grover.
And so we began the tasting! Truth be told, very few (if any!) of us really got the nuances of the 8 (yes, 8!) wines that we tasted that evening. But the sophisticated, beautiful setting and the heady wines were enough to make us all happy-high as we drove back to our resort under the starry night sky. That drive, with its cold night breeze, music, and all those stars remains one of the highlights of the weekend.

Day 2 began leisurely with a relaxed Maharashtrian breakfast of Misal Pav and some Wade, made of a mix of pulses and cereal. Yummy! 

After breakfast, we split into teams of two, with each team selecting one dish that they would cook, from the plethora of Khandeshi dishes we had sampled so far at lunch, dinner and breakfast. Needless to say, Agent J and I chose to try our hands at the lip-smacking mutton curry!

Each team of two had a small cooking unit, consisting of a gas stove, utensils, ingredients for their dish all laid out, aprons and recipe books. 

Within record time our 5 teams had churned out a veritable feast consisting of:

  • Mutton Curry
  • Vangyacha Bharit
  • Dal Batti
  • Kadhi and Green Chilli Thecha
  • Puran Polis


Our Mutton Curry - finger-lickin' goodness!
The icing on the top was a tray full of flutes of rose sparkling wine carried in by Rahul to celebrate our culinary success!

After a hearty lunch consisting of a taste of all the above (all of it was delish, we all proved to be Master Chefs! :P) and simple fare like bhindi subzi, dal-rice, it as time to pack up and leave for home.

What a super one-and-a-half day break it was! Brilliant sunset, bracing cold weather, great food, amazing people….surely a weekend to remember!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Restaurant Review: IMBISS, off Hill Road, Bandra West

I came across IMBISS (or is it Imbiss, like any other regular name? I don't know) categorised as 'Hidden Gem' on Zomato. With a tagline like 'The 'Meating Joint', the rave reviews on Zomato AND THE FACT THAT A MEAL FOR TWO WOULD COST RS 600 I couldn't get there soon enough.

And I COULDN'T get there soon enough. Correction- I wouldn't have been able to get there if it was not for the most excellent of apps, the superhero of helpfulness, the king of customer satisfaction- aka Google Maps. Tucked into a tiny lane off Hill Road, IMBISS can easily be skipped from most dinner plans, simply because its just not visible.

But once you put yourselves in Google Maps' reliable hands, you easily find your way to Carnivore Heaven. Located on the ground floor of a residential building, IMBISS is cosy (read: small) restaurant with a small paved yard in the front, lit with fairy lights. The yard (or more prosaically, the small space in front of the building) slopes gently downwards, giving you a lopsided dining experience, if you sit outdoors.

But who cares about tiny benches and stools and slope-away floors when the menu boasts of schnitzels and sausages, ribs and roasts- most of them under Rs 200? The most expensive dish on the menu, baby back pork spare ribs is listed at Rs 375. It is incidentally also one of the most raved-about dishes in Zomato reviews.

Agent J and I, however, went with the other dish that was lauded by foodies- the Signature Sausage platter.
Priced at Rs 180, this dish features 8 sausages, ranging from small cocktail ones to big snags. What was remarkable was that every sausage had a distinct flavour and taste- from the Indian-ish spiciness of the cocktail chicken sausage, to the hearty smokiness of the big pork one. There was a mild, cheese-studded chicken sausage and a pepper-spiked pork one. Some were very soft, others were toothsome with a nice bite to them.  Such a playground of tastes and textures! Yum yum.

For the next dish, we asked our server for a recommendation. I must take time here to mention that the server young yet knowledgeable and showed a sense of ownership about the menu and the place that was heartening to see. He first recommended the ribs but cautioned us they could be fatty. When we demurred, he suggested trying one of the daily specials- grilled pork tenderloin, saying that the portion was small and manageable. We decided to go with the recommendation and what a good decision it was! A small serving of pork loin, grilled till well done and a soft -yet-firm texture. A plump sausage on the side, along with super smooth mashed potatoes and lightly sauteed vegetables- beans, carrots and peas. All swathed in a brown sauce- not the British brown sauce (as I had fretted it would be, with its sweet vinegary undertaste) - but  salty, savoury and flavoursome, more like a jus or gravy.

Since Agent J has a healthily restrained appetite and not too great a love for meat. So we stopped our culinary explorations after these 2 dishes. However, while I was not hungry anymore, I COULD HAVE made space for some schnitzel, had I a kindred soul (or stomach) for company. Sigh.

Anyway, the 2 dishes that we DID feast upon cost us a total of Rs 470. Try eating for that much in any other fancy Bandra West eatery that serves 'Continental' food!

The menu is littered with interesting eye-catching items like fried duck egg, pickled quail eggs,  Bavarian meatloaf, Bratwurst, duck sausage and so on. Am definitely going to be back- for culinary research, of course! ;)

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