Mumbai restaurant menus featuring quirky dishes with a dash of Old Monk

Updated: Jan 21, 2018, 19:06 IST | Benita Fernando and Anju Maskeri

Old Monk gets a new life in restaurant menus, and we think that's a perfect tribute to its late creator Kapil Mohan

The Old Monk(ey) Cake
The Old Monk(ey) Cake Rs 270

Old Monk(ey) cake at Monkey Bar, Bandra
It's not hard to guess why Bandra's popular outpost draws inspiration from this brand of rum, given that its name has resonance with the liquor. The Old Monk(ey) cake, says the restaurant's pastry chef, Kalyan Rao, uses the dark honey-coloured rum as the main ingredient. "It's dark chocolate cake soaked in Old Monk-flavoured syrup, layered with Old Monk chocolate ganache and crushed almond praline," says Rao. The chef says that the pairing of dark rum with chocolate is a tried-and-tested one, such as with rum balls, and one that is likely to stand the test of time.

"We chose Old Monk over other rums primarily for its unique flavour which is predominantly vanilla, but also has dark molasses that gives it a slight bitterness," he says. This distinct flavour is sought out by guests regularly. "Moreover, it is widely available and is cost effective," he notes.

Grilled prawns. Pic/Sameer Markande
Grilled prawns. Pic/Sameer Markande. Rs 675

Char grilled prawns at Rodeo, Andheri East
Marinated for two hours in onion, garlic, celery, Dijon mustard and Old Monk, the prawns at Rodeo Drive acquire a distinct taste. "Old Monk acts as a preservative, and its acidic flavour adds to the prawns," says chef Ruffy Shaikh. The choice of Old Monk for marination has something to do with it being India's staple tipple. "It's the only flavour that truly represents India, and among the best of the fleet. Even expats who come back to India seek it out," says Shaikh. He adds that mustard and dark rum make a good pairing, like ebony and ivory, bringing out some worthwhile smoky flavours. "Old Monk is picante, and is a great combination with mustard," he explains.

Ruffy Shaikh
Ruffy Shaikh

If we are concerned that prawns, and other seafood, will be overpowered by the strong notes of Old Monk, the chef assures us that isn't the case. "When you marinate the prawns and grill them, the alcohol evaporates. It is more problematic only when you pour the rum directly over for a flambe."

Roasted Lamb Boti. Rs 495
Roasted Lamb Boti. Rs 495

Old Monk soaked roasted lamb boti at Tappa, Kamala Mills
At Lower Parel's newly launched Tappa, the Old Monk soaked roasted lamb boti was born out of the need to pay homage to the indigenous rum. "Due to a long legacy, Old Monk has an unquestionable supremacy over the Indian palate. Moreover, it is widely accepted across all ages," says Chef Gurpreet Singh. What sets it apart from its competitors is the fact that it doesn't overpower other ingredients. "Old Monk is blended rum matured for several years and you can tell it apart from other dark rums," he says. Most other spiced rums, he feels, are difficult to cook with because they have an inherently strong flavour. "Here, Old Monk matures the meat, reduces the cooking time without killing the texture, hence acts as a substitute for dairy-based marinades."

Old Monk BBQ sauce. Rs 300 for 250ml
Old Monk BBQ sauce. Rs 300 for 250ml

Madhumeeta Pyne's Old Monk BBQ sauce
A home chef who goes by the brand name Insomniac Cook, Madhumeeta Pyne has created a niche for herself with her artisanal jams, sauces and dips at her pop-up stalls. Pyne, a Malad resident, is also an Old Monk loyalist, and says that her go-to drink has been Old Monk with soda for nearly two decades now. It is but natural, therefore, that this rum finds its way into her recipes, such as a hit BBQ sauce that she prepares.

"I have never been a fan of BBQ sauces that render the meat sweet. When you make BBQ sauce with Old Monk, the alcohol doesn't remain and only the flavours do," says Pyne. She makes the sauce with pepper and mustard, creating a sauce that isn't is more hot than sweet. The sauce is lathered on pork ribs, chicken wings and meatballs, and has a smooth finish, she explains. Her Old Monk BBQ sauce is also sold separately.The popular rum also makes a cameo appearance in her bacon ice cream, which uses salted caramel as its base. "I add about two caps of Old Monk to one litre of this ice cream in order to stop it from crystallising. The rum was just supposed to be functional, but it also lends its flavour wonderfully," says Pyne.

Tava kheema
Tava kheema. Rs 300

Old Monk tava kheema at Bombay Bronx, Breach Candy
At Breach Candy's The Bombay Bronx, the good ol' chicken kheema has been stripped off its sobriety. Along with mutton mince, green peas, onions, tomatoes, cloves and cinnamon, you are greeted by the inviting aroma of rum. "Tava kheema is your quick fix food. It's spicy and tasty. Old Monk makes the dish a little more juicier and adds the vanilla pinch to the dish," says chef Subroto Haldar. Being an avid Old Monk drinker and a chicken kheema fan, Haldar wanted to create a dish by marrying the two. "It was an experiment that paid off. But I couldn't nail it in the first go. It took me a lot of trials. I even organised tastings with rum lovers," he recalls. It was after their approval, that the dish was added to the menu last month. Here, it's served with pav, fries
and salad.

Rum chica cum. Rs 475
Rum chica cum. Rs 475

Rum chica cum at Raasta, Khar
Being a Caribbean-themed restobar, it was important for Prashant Singh, executive chef at Raasta, to give the distilled spirit its due. So, you won't just find it on the bar menu, but also in the food. The star dish, however, is the Old Monk-inspired rum chica rum, a chicken appetiser with flavours coming in from a blend of jerk spices, thyme and a hint of citrus sauce. "Old Monk was, by default, our first choice as far as dark rum goes. Apart from its massive fan base, it's a drink we were sure would suit the Indian palette," he says.

Prashant Singh
Prashant Singh

According to Singh, Old Monk works best when it comes to caramelising, and elevates the flavour of the dish. It also blends well with orange juice, one of the most important ingredients of the marinade. "What wine does to a steak is exactly what rum does to chicken. It liberates the flavours," he explains. All he has to do is add 60 ml of it while grilling the chicken. Singh, however, cautions that it's an acquired taste. "But those who like it, are fiercely loyal to it."

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