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Maria Goretti and Lolita Sarkar craft brunch menu with stories to tell

A recipe picked up in childhood and another of Spanish descent — Maria Goretti and Lolita Sarkar craft a brunch menu with several stories to tell

Maria adds pork vindaloo to the brun pao as Lolita Sarkar looks on. Pic/PRADEEP DHIVAR

Maria Goretti has always fancied running her own bakery, aimed at tempting passersby with mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked bread and muffins. Only, she would like to down shutters each day by five pm. "This, I believe could be a bad business venture because nobody shuts their cafe at 5 pm, not in Mumbai, at least. But I want to go back home and have a life beyond work," says the former MTV VJ, as she pets Ziggy, her year-old Labrador who's happily plonked at her feet. The work-life balance, she says, is why she ditched the idea and instead teamed up with Lolita Sarkar, owner of Desi Deli, to curate the Andheri outlet's new brunch menu.

Pork vindaloo in brun pao. Pic/PRADEEP DHIVAR

While Goretti's three recipes will be available at the restaurant for a month, Sarkar plans to continue the trend and rope in food lovers and achievers for a month, pick a couple of dishes from their repertoire and pair them with Desi Deli's. "The idea was also to pick people from our neighbourhood. Today we have somebody from the food industry; tomorrow we might have someone from fashion," explains Sarkar, who launched the outlet in December.

The duo is hosting a special brunch today for friends and family, where Goretti will cook three specials from her cookbook From My Kitchen to Yours. Lolita will prepare three specials from her collection of recipes, before they roll out the brunch starting tomorrow.

Last week, we met Goretti and Sarkar for a preview of the dishes, which the duo has picked not just for the taste but also because of a personal connection. "My mother's family hails from a tiny place called Bankura in West Bengal. In the market, there was a man named Ghuiram who would sell Ghugni, a delicious curry made of mainly chickpeas (Karaishuti). Ever since I was a kid, I would hear stories of how he made himself a three-storeyed house by just selling ghugni. So, when we started this, the first thing I thought of was ghugni," she says.

Tuna on crisp sabudana papad. Pic/PRADEEP DHIVAR

Interestingly, Ghuiram shared the recipe with Sarkar's mother, but Sarkar has chosen to give it a twist. Usually served with meat or fish, she serves us a vegetarian version on a bed of couscous. Sarkar has also prepared the Rajasthani jungli maas, picked up during one of her travels to the region.

Also on the menu is the orange cake, whose recipe Goretti stumbled on during an all-girls' trip to Spain five years ago. "Usually, when I go on a trip, I come back with a couple of new recipes. I find my way to the kitchen most of the time. More often than not, chefs happily share the recipe. Unfortunately, Spain was the only trip where I didn't come back with one because I was too busy having fun with my girlfriends," she laughs. But the warmth and flavour of the citrus cake stayed with Goretti long after she was back. Then while watching an international culinary show on TV, she realised it's the same cake she had back in Spain.

"After many trials, I managed to nail it, or so I think," she says. The cake is light and deliciously layered with zesty orange meringue. However, the dish, Goretti is thrilled about is the Sri Lankan aubergine moju; a delightful brinjal moju/eggplant pickle served with yellow rice. Being a proud East Indian, Goretti has also dug into family recipes for the pork vindaloo with brun pao. "It brings memories of my mother's preparation in her Vasai kitchen," smiles Goretti.

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