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Chef Ranveer Brar goes on a food trail around Mumbai

It’s not every day that you hear a chef drop this question. We follow chef Ranveer Brar as he hits a suburban café trail to pick his favourite fare beyond coffee and cookies

Chef’s pick: Couscous Upma
At The Homemade Cafe
Taking fancy to the café with a distinct, quaintly European feel, Brar takes a bite of Soya Kheema Pav, Greek Salad, Almond Granola as well as a vegetarian Pink Sauce Penne Pasta before picking Couscous Upma as his favourite.


At The Homemade Cafe. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

“I love the upma because of its clean flavours. Generally, we have a tendency to douse food in Indian flavours. This one didn’t have an overdose of curry leaf or mustard tempering. You could taste the couscous too,” he says, adding, “Chef Floyd Cardoz was one of the first to make upma contemporary using polenta and mushrooms.”
Tweak it: You have to steam couscous, so, if you don’t have a steamer, you can opt for polenta grains instead. Cook them the way you make rawa upma and temper it with curry leaves and mustard. You can also toss dried shrimp in coconut oil and add it to this version.
Time 12 noon to 11.30 pm
At 41, Kaveri Building, near Oshiwara Police Station, Andheri (W).

Chef’s pick: Grilled Chicken In Pepper Mushroom Sauce
At Dinshaw’s Xpress Café
“During my childhood, we would play Plot 4 a lot. I was also addicted to Scrabble,” reminisces Brar as he looks at the board games piled up on one of the tables.


Enjoys a whiff of the Grilled Chicken In Pepper Mushroom Sauce

Dinshaw’s menu includes classics like Cold Coffee, Kheema Pav and contemporary eats Cheesy Messy Peri Fries. “Peri peri is originally a spice from the Mozambique region of Africa introduced to India by the Portuguese,” he informs, as he takes a bite of the Grilled Chicken In Pepper Mushroom. “Wow, this is so 1970s. I love the touch of the fresh veggies on the side; they make me nostalgic and I can taste the black pepper in my mouth,” appreciates Brar.
Tweak it: You can make this vegetarian by substituting grilled chicken with cottage cheese. You can also use Peri Peri sauce to marinate fish and make Peri Peri Roast at home.
Time 12 noon onwards
At 6, Windermere Building, off Link Road, Oshiwara, Andheri (W).

Chef’s Pick: Lemon Coriander Risotto
At The Birdsong Café
With a menu that celebrates organic, non-processed fare, it is not surprising to find this café on the chef’s list of favourites. “It’s in my comfort zone because it stays in the space of well-being.

Enjoys a whiff of the Grilled Chicken In Pepper Mushroom Sauce
Enjoying a round of Hibiscus Chia drink and his pick, Lemon Coriander Risotto (next to the cutlery)

It’s easy to design a huge menu with a lot of pre-cooked fare but tougher to create a small menu that includes only raw and natural ingredients. That’s pretty bold,” he thinks. He tries a brownie (gluten free) and Chia Seed Pudding (“I don’t have a sweet tooth,” he confesses) but sticks to the Lemon Coriander Risotto. “While we’re used to risottos made with rice, this one includes Indian super grains like amaranth and millet along with quinoa. So, there’s a balance of Indian and foreign grains. Plus, risotto is essentially a method of stirring and cooking. It’s not supposed to be like a biryani, but have a semi-solid consistency, which this one manages perfectly.”
Tweak it: My comfort food is khichdi. If you’re not initiated into the cooking technique of risotto, you can always use the same ingredients to cook Bajra and AmaranthKhichdi.
Time 9 am to 11 pm
At Waroda Road, behind American Express Bakery, Hill Road, Bandra (W).
For chef’s recipe, log on to www.mid-day.com

Stirring up café nostalgia
While living in the USA (2006-07), I would go skiing to Vermont, two hours away from Boston. Hunting is allowed there. Once, my friends and I were hungry and stopped by at this post office that also had a garden café-like seating. The person in-charge would sell hunting licenses. He had a pizza oven, so we ordered a pizza. He made it with fresh venison meat (provided by someone who had returned from a hunt), topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. That was the best coffee and pizza I’ve ever had. Post that, we’d drop by every time we went skiing but I never tasted that flavour again.
— Chef Ranveer Brar

Chef Ranveer Brar’s Bajra and Amaranth Khichdi
Serves: 2
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Prep time: 15 mins
Equipment needed: Pan, spatula, baking tray, clean film

Ingredients
>> Oil: 2 tbsp
>> Mustard Seeds: 1 tsp
>> Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
>> Curry Leaves: 5 to 6
>> Chopped Garlic: 1 tsp
>> Chopped Ginger: 1 tsp
>> Chopped Onions: ½ cup
>> Red Chilli Powder: ½ tsp
>> Coriander Powder: ½ tsp
>> Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp
>> Mixed Veggies: ½ cup (Carrots, green beans, peas)
>> Corn: 2 tbsp
>> Overnight soaked Bajra: 2 cups
>> Overnight soaked Amaranth: 1 cup
>> Grated Coconut: ½ cup
>> Salt to taste
>> Chopped Tomato: 1
>> Lemon juice squeezed from one lemon
>> Chopped coriander for garnish
>> Chopped Green Chilies: 1 tbsp

For Green Chilli Mixture
>> Mustard Oil: 1 tbsp
>> Black Gram Dal: ½ tsp
>> Green Chillies: 4 to 5
>> Salt to taste
>> Grated Coconut: ½ tsp

To Serve
>> Buttermilk: 1 glass
>> Fried onions as per taste
>> A few curry leaves

Method
>> Pressure cook bajra and amaranth with salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Wait for three to four whistles.
>> In a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, chopped garlic, chopped ginger and mix well.
>> Now add chopped onion, coriander powder, mixed veggies, corn, cooked bajra, cooked amaranth, grated coconut, salt, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, chopped coriander and cook well.
>> To prepare green chilli mixture as an accompaniment with khichdi: In a pan, add mustard oil, black gram dal, green chillies, salt, grated coconut and toss well.
>> For plating, place two ring moulds and stuff in the khichdi. Serve with buttermilk and prepared green chilli mixture. Garnish with curry leaves and fried onions.

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