Food festival in Bandra to introduce flavours from the Khoja community
A food festival at a Bandra eatery will introduce you to the flavours of a community that draws inspiration from Gujarat and Iran
Neha Manekia and Joshua D'Souza
There's no joy like the one you get from cooking your grandmother's favourite recipe for your friends and having them finish it off in no time. That's exactly what happens at The Curry Brothers, Bandra. They bring to the table recipes from the families of chef Joshua D'Souza and wife Neha Manekia. Come Friday, they will bring specialties that have been a part of Manekia's family for generations as part of the Khoja Festival.
"The Khojas are a rather liberal Muslim community with a cuisine that's warm yet simple. I am Khoja-born. So, we were very passionate about bringing these recipes to the fore because the cuisine's unknown yet so similar in flavour to the food that we know and love in Mumbai. The influences are very Iranian and Gujarati. Cuisine-wise, the Bohris and the Khojas are similar," Manekia says.
We waste no time and pick bhindi naan sandwich ('199) and kheema samosa ('245) from the appetisers. The former is a vegetarian take on the famous naan sandwich and has ghee-roasted bhindi stuffed in traditional bread naan. It's tangy and reminiscent of flavours found in Gujarat.
The kheema samosa, stuffed with slow-cooked minced mutton and seasoned with mint and coriander, becomes an instant favourite as the crispy outer covering gives way to a perfect mix of spices and meat.
We then move on to masoor pulao ('250) from the mains. This dish is an ode to the biryani and despite being loyalists of the non-vegetarian kind, we do not mind this vegetarian counterpart. It comes with a lot of masoor dal and is packed with flavours. To make up for the missing meat, we pick the paaya. The paaya or mutton trotters ('275) is slow-cooked in a gravy till the latter thickens. We suggest you have it with jeera rice or sheermal.
Bhindi naan sandwich
Next, we turn to the showstoppers, both are recipes of Manekia's mother. The raan or the leg of the lamb ('1,900 for two or three people) is slow-cooked for four hours in a red gravy till the meat becomes soft and succulent and falls off the bone. It's delicious, to say the least. The meat melts in the mouth and is best complemented with sheermal.
Kopra paak, gur papdi and dudhi halwa
But if you want to try something you've never had before, go for the bajra lassan ('275). It's the quintessential Khoja dish to be had on a winter afternoon with your family. It's warm and made of crushed bajra roti and smoked with a copious amount of ghee. It comes with a side of dahi and smoky baigan ka bharta. We have it with dahi and love how the latter balances the overpowering garlic and ghee flavours of the dish.
Then comes dessert. We are most excited about the dishes that come from Manekia's great-grandmother's kitchen as we are promised lots of ghee. The woman believed ghee "cured everything", adds Manekia. So we try the kopra paak ('150) that's made of coconut and jaggery, the gur papdi ('150) made of slow-roasted flours of wheat and water chestnut and sprinkled with gondh and jaggery, and the dudhi halwa ('150). With our sweet-toothed sensibilities, the gur papdi is something we don't mind snacking on.
"The funny part about trying these recipes was the measurements that were written down by Maaji (Manekia's great-grandmother). She had measured the ingredients using coconut shells and that's what was written. So we had to go through a lot of trial-and-error to get the measurements right. We finally agreed on the dish after trying it about 30 times. We used coconut shells too," reveals D'Souza, adding that the eatery is also planning to host Maharashtrian and South Indian festivals later in the year.
"It's exciting and scary to put your heritage out there through food, but it's something that you know you love. Everyone who has it will take away a piece of my family and for me that is very special," Manekia signs off.
From February 16 to 28
AtâÂÂThe Curry Brothers, Carter Road, Bandra West.
Time 12 pm to 12 am