Sunday 25 February 2007
a few weekends ago, h and i took the ferry from gateway of india in south bombay to mandwa, the entry point to alibag and the rest of the konkan coast. the ferry ride is just 45 minutes while it takes over 2 hours by road. we were indulging in what has now become a very fashionable pass time for bombayites on saturdays - checking out land to buy in alibag or one of the other seaside villages like nandgaon, kihim and kashid. with property prices going through the roof in bombay, lots of people are choosing to invest in alibag. not that it's practical to live in alibag and work in mumbai (wouldn't that be nice) but it's an opportune time to buy your second home even before you may have secured your first!
alibag was always the preferred getaway for bombay's rich and famous for over a decade now but it is only in the past few years that it's popularity has shot up tremendously as more people can afford to invest in seafront property outside of bombay. we can thank the sensex for the wealth effect that's driving this trend! there's also much more of a "weekend getaway" culture now and people are just itching to leave the city on friday evenings to get a break from the stress and manic pace of the week. actually alibag is already crowded (and prices are reaching bombay levels) so people are going even further south, as far as murud which is about an hour and half's drive from mandwa port.
even though i grew up in bombay i'd never been to alibag so this was my first trip. i was curious to see what the fuss is all about. after experiencing the pristine waters, the clean beaches, the thick coconut groves and lush sea and landscape beyond kihim, i can testify to the allure of the konkan coast. it's so refreshing to leave behind the grind and the grime of our beloved but polluted city to get rejuvenated and refreshed in another part of maharashtra that is a whole lot kinder and gentler to the senses.
it was in alibag where i had a maharashtrian thali for lunch. we were at the famous sanman restaurant, known for its delicious seafood which h was dying to try. so while h enjoyed his bombils and pompfrets and all kinds of other fresh fish, i ate a simple vegetarian thali. the new dish for me was the bakhri which is a soft roti made from rice flour. its texture reminded me of the appam but it is shaped more like a chapati. the bakhri was a terrific accompaniment to the jeera potato, chole curry, yellow daal, red daal and beans curry. the food was very average. but in hindsight, sanman was probably not the right place to be enjoying a typical vegetarian meal!
after lunch, we looked at some more properties and then headed back on the 3:30 ferry. it's such a great feeling to be welcomed back home by the spectacular taj mahal hotel and the gateway of india.
Sunday 18 February 2007
the vegetarian thali is a wonderfully diverse meal. depending on which region of the country you are in, the different dishes that form part of the thali are quite different. but what they share in common is the presentation - a big stainless steel round plate with lots of little katoris (bowls) arrange on the upper half of the circular plate. and the lower half is usually reserved for rotis, puris or rice. and of course, you have the pickles and other accompaniments, like papad, onion, green chillies etc, stuffed wherever place is to be found on the plate!
here in bombay we have access to such a terrific varitey of cuisines from all over india. last weekend i enjoyed a simple thali. can you guess from the photo which kind of thali i ate?
Saturday 10 February 2007
bombay's annual visual arts and crafts festival is currently on at kala ghoda till february the 12th. the area near jehangir art gallery and rhythm house gets cordoned off and the streets come alive with food stalls, live performers, arts and crafts booths and night theatre. i love spending a few hours in this atmosphere just soaking up the joie de vivre and cultural boost.
this year's showstopper was the "aamchi helicoptook" which delighted the crowds with its innovative dressing-up of the beloved autorickshaw, an endangered species in south bombay where they are not allowed because they cause even more congestion on the roads! the artists wondered what it would take to beat bombay's horrendous traffic jams and they came up with the concept of the took-took (what the brits called the rickshaw) with wings.
i really loved the massive installation of lime and green chillies ("drushti") to ward off the evil spirits and give an auspicious air to the setting.
and though there were enough food stalls to tempt my appetite, i couldn't resist the good old pani puri stall set up by chetana restaurant (where you get the city's finest rajasthani/gujrati cuisine). i'm such a sucker for chaat!
Wednesday 7 February 2007
i ate a full bag of kurkure today. i was licking my fingers till the last bite. and i still couldnt get enough of the delicious flavours.
kurkure are nothing but cheetos, desi style. with a lot less cheese. a whole lot more crunch. and delicious indian spices. and yes, they're made by fritolay india. and guess what? the kurkure brand has been so successful that it is being exported globally so you may soon have a kurkure coming to the grocery store near you. except that if you're living somewhere in middle america, you may not get the exotic masala munch and will have to settle for barbeque bite or something equally mainstream and, dare i add, mundane. but if you venture out to an indian grocery store, you just might find the real thing!
Sunday 4 February 2007
i'd almost forgotten how satisfying it is to have a little meal between lunch and dinner, right around 4:30 p.m. it is especially nice on sunday afternoons after you've woken up from the luxury of a long nap that you can't indulge in on a weekday.
i made dhoklas today to accompany masala chai. you may have read this khaman dhokla recipe before on my london blog. this time around the dhokla was even more tasty because i added a a few teaspoons of white sesame seeds to the tempering. i loved the crunchy texture that it gave the dhoklas. i also squeezed lots of lime on top of the dhoklas. i've been craving lime in everything these days. must be a pregnancy thing!
do you find time for tiffin? what's your favourite thing to eat at this time of the day?
Friday 2 February 2007
when i left bombay over six years ago, there wasn't a single japanese restaurant in the city. now there are several of which wasabi by morimoto (taj palace hotel) and testsuma cater to the truly discerning foodies in search of the freshest sashimi and the finest sake. and the best part about these japanese restaurants in bombay is that over 30% of the menu is vegetarain. what a delight for vegetarians who have not much other than avocado sushi, tofu in soy reduction and vegetable tempura (vegetables fried in batter) to look forward to at japanese restaurants abroad.
h and i enjoyed a cosy, romantic dinner at tetsuma last night. a charming waiter told us that the name is derived from "tetsumake" in japanese which means tornado. i actually thought that the name would have a calmer meaning to match the simple, serene and natural wood toned interiors dotted with massive potted plants floating in shallow, square pools of water. it's hard to believe that you're in the heart of bombay when you're lost in the privacy that tetsuma offers.
the showstopper is the wine cellar which runs all along one side of the restaurant and boasts thousands of bottles of wines from all over the world. there's also a bar at the front of tetsuma that attracts the jet-set after dinner crowd.
dinner for me was miso soup that impressed with a depth of flavours in the broth. i could have also chosen the "kimchi chiggae" (spicy cabbage soup) but i wasn't partcularly in the mood to flirt with a korean dish at a japanese restaurant.
appetiser was daikon salad with a delicate sesame dressing. corn and cheese krokke and asparagus blanched in peanut sauce were other vegetarian options for small eats.
much as i wanted to be adventurous and try all the unique vegetarian items for my main course (japanese pizza, udon noodles etc), i stuck to the good old veg sushi roll because i was craving it so much. the sushi was super fresh and rolled really well. i loved the white sesame seed topping which gave the rice lovely nutty flavour. my only complaint was that the raw ginger didn't have the same bite as the ginger they serve at nobu or zuma in london. it was a bit too sweet and not tangy enough for my liking.
and i wish i could have tried the veg tasting menu - tofu teriyaki, veg tempura, zucchini carpacio and teriyaki vegetables. but i'll have to come back with a group of four or more to order the sampler.
overall, a lovely experience. but not light on the wallet. a dinner for two at tetsuma will set you back at least a couple of thousand rupees a head. but japanese restaurants aren't exactly known for their value for money proposition!
tetsuma is at 41/44, mon Repos, minoo desai marg, behind radio club, colaba, mumbai. right next to the very chic nightclub, privee. you can call on +91-22-22876578 for a reservation.
ps - just found out that my highschool classmate, aditya kilachand, owns the restaurant! got to maximise that next time :)