On a busy day in the Dum Pukht kitchen at ITC Sonar, Kolkata, chef Mukhtar Qureshi was slouching over while preparing the galouti kebab. Suddenly, a heavy slap landed on his back. His ‘dur ke fufaji’, the late chef Imtiaz Qureshi, under whom Mukhtar was apprenticing in 2003, had dropped by.
“He took me aside and said, ‘Khana banana hai to shaan se banao. Jhuk kar nahi. Dil se khilana hai toh ankh aur seena dono milne chaiye.’ His lecturing was also lengthy, just like his dum pukht cooking,” Mukhtar smiles.
Qureshi as a wrestler
Earlier this month, on February 16, chef Imtiaz Qureshi, Padma Shri-awardee (2016), passed away at 93. He dedicated 40 years of his life to rediscovering, reinventing and refining Awadhi and Lakhnawi cuisine. Born into a family of butchers in Lucknow, at the young age of nine, Imtiaz was sent to apprentice under his relative ustad Haji Ishaq in Hussainganj. “My father had two passions — pehelwani aur pakana [wrestling and cooking]. He would tell me how he had to lift 100-kg flour bags, prep the tandoor, and even remove it off the ground at the end of the day. He would do all the mis en place in the hope to get to learn and make sheermal and rotis in the tandoor and kebabs in the grill.”
Later, he began working as a chef at Hotel Krishna in Hazratganj in Lucknow, and was much-loved for his catering. Following this, he joined Lucknow’s first five-star hotel, Clarks in 1973. “In 1976, the then ITC chairman, late Ajit Haksar had a vision to introduce Indian cuisine concepts in the hotels. He entrusted the task to retired employee Mr. Sabarwal to bring Imtiaz Qureshi on board ITC hotels. However, it was the armed forces personnel who frequented Mohammed Baug club in Lucknow who eventually convinced Imtiaz to move to Mughal Sheraton Agra where he opened Navratna. In a year, he moved to Delhi to launch ITC Maurya, where he was in charge of the Indian cuisine at the coffee shop, and restaurants Mayur, Dum Pukht and Bukhara,” recalls Ishtiyaque, Imtiaz’s eldest son who began working with his father since he was 13.
Imtiaz Qureshi during a visit to Mumbai. File pics; (Right) Chefs Manjit Gill (left) with Qureshi at a food festival in Venezuela in the 1980s. Gill recalls they were only two people: “I was manning the tandoor outside, and he was handling the curries, biryani, and dal inside.”
Making of the legacy
Food historian Pushpesh Pant calls him the first celebrity chef of India. “No one respected Indian cuisine or heritage chefs until Imtiaz Qureshi. People were obsessed with attending catering college and Le Cordon Bleu, and making Continental food at five-stars — food that the white man ate. Here was a man who didn’t speak English, had never been to catering school but had great skills. He had a personality to match — a big man, grey hair, a crowbar moustache and loud laughter. He was confident as well as generous,” reminisces Pant.
Pant believes that the first step to creating a legacy was to restore the self-respect of the Indian diner as well as the cooks. “People had not experienced Awadhi cuisine as fine dine, as the offerings were limited to street-style chaat such as seekh and galouti kebabs. Imtiaz made kormas and kaliyans, and vegetables that were slow-cooked in traditional copper pots. He highlighted Lucknow’s vegetarian fare including tamatar ka shorba, parwar ka dolma, achari baigan, baigan ki lonje. His shahi tukda was to die for,” elaborates Pant.
In Delhi, where Punjabi eateries like Moti Mahal, Gulatis and Kake da Dhaba dominated, Imtiaz held his own. “He regarded himself to be the custodian of Lakhnawi recipes, and had the grace to admit he was not a royal cook. He made a good point that butchery goes hand in hand with great cookery: without a good butcher, no bawarchi can work his magic. He has to work with the right cut of meat, how long it will take to cook and how much salt it will require,” reveals Pant.The second contribution was roping in relatives to join him in the kitchen and training chefs under him. This opened the window for Indian chefs to travel overseas and work in Indian restaurants instead of continental kitchens.” Pant is hopeful that his legacy will be kept alive by the likes of chefs such as Ranveer Brar, Kunal Kapur, Sadaf Hussain and Nishant Chaubey.
Dum pukht dossier
One of the chefs who worked closely with Qureshi was chef (Dr) Manjit Singh Gill. “I collaborated for 40 years until his retirement in 2016. I learnt a lot from his skills, and coordinated to create new concepts, themes, and bespoke caterings in banquets — he reported to me due to hierarchy, but I looked up to him as my master. Until he arrived on the scene, there was limited variety of Indian fare in five-stars beyond a few kebab variations, handful of curries, and dal makhani. He created the version of biryani that continues to be served across today’s restaurants. He had a unique approach to the cuisine,” shares Gill, president of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and former corporate chef at ITC Hotels. Gill and Qureshi combined their strengths. “While working on dum pukht, the challenge was to convert a bulk preparation for an à la carte restaurant so that guests could order in portions. Today, every restaurant is following this trend,” suggests Gill.
Chef Mukhtar, who created his own expressions of Awadhi and Lakhnawi cuisine at Neel at Tote on the Turf and Ummrao at JW Marriott Sahar, points out that diners were unaware of the royal food of the nawabs. “Unki soch alag thi. He set out to make cuisine that both kids and adults could savour. Awadhi khana zameen se juda hua hai; usme mehnat aur dimag donon ki zaroorat hai.”
About the famous dal bukhara, Ishtiyaque reveals that it was left on the tandoor bukhari (which is how it gets its name) overnight in a copper pot, “The cooking was inspired by the process used to make moong gosht, mas kaliya and khichda.” He leaves us with warm moments from the last years with the great chef: “Abba loved a well-made biryani, kakori kebab, salad and paya. Whenever he came home, it was a daawat.”
Chef Imtiaz Qureshi, the gamechanger
Dum pukht biryani; (right) Ishijyot Surri
At Mulk, our culinary tradition is based on Qureshi’s technique and inspired by some of his iconic recipes. Our dum pukht biryani is carefully arranged in layers with juicy meat or vegetables and finally cooked together under one sealed pot. We follow the slow cooking technique as it represents the authentic revival of time-honoured traditions that demonstrate the unmatched artistic finesse as well as the intricate nature of Indian food cultures.
Ishijyot Surri, executive chef, Mulk, Andheri
When my father opened Khyber in 1958, he served North West Frontier cuisine tweaked to suit Gujarati palates. It was slightly sweeter and low on spice. There was a classic way to prepare such fare until chef Qureshi arrived on the scene, and introduced slow cooking in a five-star kitchen,” recalls Bahl, confessing his restaurant doesn’t follow this style. “We have a happy problem; if we change our menu, our regulars will complain. Our classic dishes include paneer korma, nalli nihari and raan, which have remained consistent since its inception. Dum cooking is extremely tedious and time-consuming. It has to be done at leisure, in a five-star kind of environment. In our environment, it’s a challenge to execute it,” he signs off.
Sudheer Bahl, owner of Khyber, Fort
Flavour and complexity
Rum is different from other spirits because of its texture and flavours that range from fruity to rich to complex. It stands as a bartender’s faithful companion — accessible, flavourful and as a base spirit for cocktails. It is also one of my preferred spirits when it comes to making cocktails. I enjoy experimenting with twists on classic rum cocktails from daiquiris to dark and stormy concoctions.
Favourite rum cocktail: The Painkiller originates from the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands in the 1970s. It has dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, and a hint of nutmeg over crushed ice.
Renzil Barrow, head mixologist, PCO Bombay, Lower Parel
A varied spirit
Rum is definitely on the rise again worldwide, and that includes in the Indian market too. Guests are enjoying discovering this fun spirit, and how well it works in different styles of cocktails. It is multi-faceted (white, dark, spiced and sweet). Favourite rum cocktail: With the right rum, it’s difficult to have just one rum sour; one of my favourites if I’m in the mood for something tangy. There are many other memorable classics I love such as the holiday spirit pina coladas or the powerful mai tais.
Louness Ducos, beverage manager, Cirqa, Lower Parel
An island favourite
Rum is part of the culture across most Caribbean islands. Rum is a smooth blend and goes along with most tropical juices. I choose to bring out the true flavour of rum using raspberries and making it a tropical drink that suits our Boho theme.
Favourite rum cocktail: One of my favourites is the classical piña colada with a twist of fresh strawberry blend in it. The drink consists of pineapple juice, fresh coconut milk, blended with strawberries and would use a mix of white and dark rum in it.Alex Fernandes, GM Operations, Koa, Juhu West
An easy-to-use base
Rum offers different styles and flavours, ranging from light to dark spiced, allowing multiple ranges of cocktails, each with its unique charm and appeal. It also mixes well with a wide range of ingredients including fruit juices, syrups, herbs and spices. This versatility allows you to experiment and get innovative with cocktails.
Favourite rum-based cocktail: It is delicia tropical, a refreshing and vibrant drink with the crispness of rum, and the characteristic sweetness and freshness of fresh coconut water, coconut meat and pineapple juice. It pays homage to the old love affair of rum, pineapple and coconut.
Delicia tropical>> 45 ml white rum>> 25 ml coconut water>> 1 bar spoon coconut meat>> 45 ml pineapple juice>> 10 ml fresh creamServed together, topped up with fresh cream.
Vaibhav Chaware, head mixologist, Poco Loco tapas and bar, Khar West
The industry’s choice
Rum has always been the best mixing spirit for the bar industry creating some of the legendary cocktails from mojito to piña colada to the daiquiri. As a Goan restaurant, we tend to incorporate rum in our cocktails, and often as a star ingredient.
Beach please!>> Coffee rested dark rum>> Charred pineapple juice>> Curry leaf cordial>> Passion fruit>> LimeServed in a glass, garnished with charred pineapple cube and maraschino cherry.
Akash Singh, mixologist, Coconut Boy, Bandra West
Easy to use
Rum has a lighter taste, hence is usually used in cocktails rather than being drunk neat. Over-proofed rums are the most popular in on the Caribbean Islands market with a higher alcohol content than the typical 37 to 40 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV).
Favourite rum cocktail: My favourite rum-based cocktail is the mai tai. It is an eternal classic.Rohit Uthla, head mixologist, Therapy Cocktail and Bar, Khar
Classic Cuba Libre>> 60 ml white rum>> 1 lime wedge squeezed>> Top up with coke
MethodA quick and effective rum-based cocktail is the Cuba Libre which is rum and coke with lots of ice. Squeeze a lime into the mix, and you are ready. It is quick, and tastes amazing.
Food: WholesomePackage: Spillage-freeService: Attentiveverdict: 3/4
One evening, en route to SoBo, we checked out Maska Bakery. Designed as a cloud kitchen, they also welcome patrons to drop by. On that day, they were busy with a photo shoot, and so we excused ourselves after soaking in the wafting aroma of baked goodies. Last week, we placed a hearty order, and relied on a delivery app to reach us in Vile Parle. Our wish list arrived in excellent shape minus any spillage or shifting of food items.
There was sufficient buzz on social media about this new space that was dubbed as founder and baker Heena Punwani’s city’s iconic eateries and Irani cafés. The bakes take inspiration from the iconic Parsi and Irani outposts. The blue-and-white packaging is an ode to Art Deco elements; every order is padded with instructions, making it easy to follow and preserve the item. We got three generations of citizens to try the fare with us.
The Jewish celebratory sweet bread, is braided and dressed in good ol’ pudina chutney, and is presented as Kejriwal chutney babka (Chhota loaf; R381). It reminded us of school days and packed chutney-sandwich lunches. The bread is moist and light at the same time. A perfect afternoon snack with a cup of chai, the small-size loaf is enough for sharing and will keep you sated for several evenings should you choose to eat it solo.
Assorted eclairs (Rs 530 for three) come as a trio. Before we discuss the flavours, it is imperative to take a moment to appreciate the éclair base, which is like a buttery crisp biscuit. After our review, when we reached Punwani, she told us that she experimented with with the temperatures to craft the perfect bite. We try three flavours: chocolate hazelnut praline, classic vanilla bean and strawberry & cream eclairs. The first one is textured indulgence with a filling of praline cream and coated with a dark chocolate glaze sprinkled with thin Feuilletine (crumbled crêpe crisps) and caramelised nuts. We break the chocolate monotony with the hefty strawberry and cream éclair overdressed in tart strawberry compote, mascarpone cream and sprinkled with pistachio. The classic chocolate also has the creamy vanilla diplomat custard cream filling in no-nonsense chocolate coat and garnished with chocolate pearls.
Bread jam (Rs 254) is our favourite pick, igniting a back-to-school nostalgia. In the ’90s, jam-butter-bread combo was every child’s sweet indulgence. In Punwani’s kitchen, it turns into a buttery brioche topped with seasonal strawberry compote, brown butter almond frangipane and toasted almonds.
The city-based baker takes a page from her own favourite French dessert Bostock (brioche and almond frangipane baked together) to add a twist to give the humble jam bread snack a lift.
From the solo indulgences, we’ve picked the almond toffee cake (Rs 402). We are reminded of a joke: As an adult we tend to forget that we can buy a cake, hop into our car, and nobody can stop us. This mini, three-layered chocolate cakelet slathered with a hazelnut ganache and chunky hazelnut toffee is for such days when there is a desire to eat an entire cake just because.
The prettiest of the lot is Cynthia’s Rose cookies (box of six for Rs 381) are the flavour dynamite that come in small packages.
They are a baker’s version of Keralite rice achappams.
It pairs well for a chai-time treat.
Maska Bakery At Unit 4 and 5, Nav Vivek Industrial Estate, Mogul Lane, Mahim West. Time 11 am to 9 pm; Mondays closed Call 8591162752 Log on to thrivenow.in/maskabakery
From the baker
Heena Punwani, who is an engineer-turned-baker, recalls her growing up days of visiting different bakeries and food spots across the city with her father. “Especially Yazdani, where I would savour the apple pie while my dad enjoyed his bun maska. The eclairs are a combination of my memories of the old-fashioned classics at Gaylord Bakery, and the elegant ones I encountered in Paris. The Kejriwal babka is so you can eat a Kejriwal at home with a sunny-side over it, but as is, it is the comfort of the classic chutney sandwich. I chose the name Maska because it tells you that this bakery cannot be anywhere but in Bombay.”
4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.4/4 Average. Maska Bakery didn’t know it was us. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
Charge up for the weekendMusic: Groove to an electrifying performance as G-Eazy (below), the singer of the famous song Me, myself & I for his debut show in the city as part of his India Tour.Time 6 pm At Dome, NSCI, SVP Stadium, Worli. Log on to in.bookmyshow.com Cost Rs 1,500 onwards
What’s in the constellations?Theatre: After consecutive sold-out shows in 2018 and 2019, Constellations, an award-winning play, is making a return. The play brings into question the many terms defining the relationship status and explores themes like free will, string theory, multiverse, and love. Time 7.30 pm At Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point. Log on to ncpamumbai.com Cost Rs 500
Phil Foden from Manchester City. Pic Courtesy/Instagram
All eyes on the goalScreening: Football fans, this one’s for you. Catch the live screening of Manchester City versus Chelsea as you munch on mouth-watering kebabs and spicy chicken wings during happy hours. Time 11.30 pm onwards At The Studs-Sports Bar & Grill, Centrum IT Park, Wagle Estate, Thane West. call 8282823064 (for reservations) log on to insider.inEntry Rs 299Also watch it at:At The Irish House, 1st floor, Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel. Call 8879660060 (for reservations)
Invoke your Spidey sensesKids: This parkour session is specially curated for young champs by experts from the Mumbai Parkour and Movement Academy.Age 2.5 years to 7 years At Hullaballoo Children’s Studio, Juhu. Call9653410559 Cost Rs 1,000 per session
Stay in styleWorkshop: Aspiring fashionistas, listen up. This workshop by celebrity stylist Rima Melwani will introduce you to the world of fashion, and help you understand the industryTime 1 pm to 3 pm At Oshiwara (complete address available only after registration) Call 9867764247 Free
Say it like the PeruviansFood: If work took you away from being able to celebrate the day of love with your partner, here’s another chance. This limited-edition Peruvian menu includes pork belly, Nikkei veggie, Peruvian pachamanca and other dishes. At Los Cavos, ground floor, Kiran Kunj, Bandra West. Call 7400405928 (for reservations)
It might be the simplest trick in the baker’s book, but cookies can, quite literally, be tough to crack. This writer has been through enough batches of overburnt cookies, darkened to a crisp, to know that it requires a fine balance to get that perfect blend of crisp exterior with a soft, gooey interior when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Actor Ananya Panday recently joined the long list of new bakers trying their hand at the old-familiar of chocolate chip cookies. While Panday got it right, not many are as lucky on the first try.
Binal Valand, Malad-based food stylist, explains, “Overbaking is the most common mistake. I did it myself when I started out first as a novice baker. Your cookies should be fudgy and soft inside, but crispy on the outside.” Overbaking leads to the cookies turning crisp and hard, quite like biscuits. “There is a thin line between perfectly baked and overbaked cookies, and that is a very common mistake among first-time bakers,” she remarks.
The trick, according to Valand, is to ensure the right timing. “Cookies, any kind, do not take more than eight to 10 minutes in the oven. With cakes, we can often dip a knife in, and if it comes out clean, it is ready. With cookies, however, it is down to observation,” she points out.
As a practice, she suggests taking them out when the top acquires a golden colour. “You should take them out when the top starts to turn golden. It will continue to keep cooking in the internal heat, so the insides will remain a little softer. But does this depend on the consistency of the cookie dough? “Not really, but one must let it rest. I would recommend letting the dough chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes,” Valand suggests.
As for first-timers, Valand also advises starting out with smaller batches. “Bake with smaller batches in your early attempts. It is easy to halve any recipe or ingredients you have. It will give you a better understanding of the process as you go along. The key is to have fun, and keep going,” she concludes.
Log on to @binal_valand
Ghee jaggery cookies with chocolate ganache
Ghee jaggery cookies with chocolate ganache; (right) Binal Valand
Ingredients. 70 gm ghee. 60 gm jaggery powder. Pinch of salt . 125 gm flour (or whole wheat). 1/4 tsp baking soda. Half an egg whisked. Chocolate/chocolate chips (optional)
MethodMix ghee and jaggery powder in a bowl. Whisk them to incorporate, and add egg. Keep whisking further for two more minutes till the mixture is creamy. Add the dry mix of flour, salt and baking soda, and combine. Let this dough chill in the fridge for half an hour. After 30 minutes, take the dough out, divide it into 10 portions. Roll and flatten with palm or fork. Bake the cookies at 180 degree Celsius for 10 to12 minutes, till golden on top.
Last month, PF Chang’s debuted in India after 300 outposts in over 20 countries, in Lower Parel. Known for its American Chinese and Asian fare since the 1990s, the menu, tweaked for desi palates including Jain patrons, uses the 2,000-year-old method of wok cooking on a 700-degree flame. Those who have tucked into its fare abroad, can look forward to classic original dynamite shrimp, Chang’s lettuce wraps, spicy kimchi fried rice and Mongolian tenderloin.
While the first PF Chang’s opened in 1993 in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the early 1960s, co-founder, Philip Chiang, opened Mandarette, which served modern adaptations of his family’s traditional Chinese dishes. A regular at the restaurant, Paul Fleming, saw potential and joined hands to create PF Chang’s. The menu today spans across Asia, with recipes from Japan, Korea, Thailand, and beyond.
Chef Jerry Thomas
When we visit for a launch trial, two dishes intrigue us. Dali chicken, which offers a cumin-and chilli-led chicken and potatoes grill combination. The second, is orange chicken with tender pieces of chicken fried nuggets in a sweet and tangy orange sauce, that could be a China Town discovery.Jerry Thomas, culinary head, PF Chang’s India, says, “When it first opened, chefs travelled to China to source rustic food stories. The Dali chicken is a classic dish from the original menu and has roots in Mongolian cuisine. It has cumin and chilli flavouring. The potatoes are fried in a wok and made crispy, and then chicken is folded in.”
The orange chicken is a balanced honey-sweet and citrus tangy dish, originally served at Mandarette. “The food served here is fare that Chinese immigrants prepared in America. Their fare remained true to its roots, but expressions were with ingredients they sourced locally. Even Kamling at Churchgate used to serve this dish. The sauce is made with orange, chilli sauce and honey,” he explains.
Chicken bhujing. FIle Pic
Dali chicken inspires us to scour for the best, most popular, old-school, iconic chicken dishes in the city. Our nostalgia trail commences with chicken bhujing, the iconic chicken, poha and potato dish with origins in Virar made famous by the Gawad family who run the 75-year-old Agashi Bhujing Centre in Agashi. The dish was created by its founder Babu Hari who invented bhujing as chakhna.
A coastal detour leads us to Bharat ExcellenSea’s chicken gassi and chicken Malabar. Suraj Salian, its owner says, “Gassi is a traditional Mangalorean dish that comes from the coast; here, delicate pieces of chicken called supreme chicken are cooked in a spicy gravy with flavours of coconut milk, onions and kori gassi masala paste. Kori is a local word for chicken. The masala has a local tamarind called kari puli and Karnataka’s Byadagi chilli, all cooked in an earthenware pot and simmered in slow fire,” he reveals. Most ingredients are sourced from the region while the earthen pots come from Hubli. Chicken Malabar, on the other hand, has a green gravy of pudina, fenugreek, coriander, along with onions, tomato gravy, coconut milk, mustard seeds, and garlic.
Here’s a cut-and-keep guide of dishes that make these institutions iconic till date.
Dali chicken; (right) Chicken Kiev. File Pics
. Chicken a la Kiev: Chicken Kiev is a Russian cuisine showstopper with its stuffed chicken fillet that is coated with cold butter, egg and bread crumbs, and deep-fried. At Gaylord, they use herbed butter, and serve it with rice and diced vegetables.AT Gaylord, Mayfair Building, VN Road, Churchgate.TIME 9.30 am to 11.30 pmCALL 22821259
. Pollo ala Indian: A creamy indulgence awaits with a filling serving of chicken stir fried with mushroom and bell peppers cooked in creamy curried sauce and served with rice.AT Café Churchill, East West Court Building, Colaba Causeway, Apollo Bunder. TIME 11 am to 11.30 pmCALL 9820051364
DESI AND DELICIOUS
Orange chicken. Pics/Sameer Markande; (right) Bagdadi chicken fried curry. Pic Courtesy/Instagram
. Chicken salli boti (salli marghi) : Parsi eateries and their charm never fail to impress. Despite the hurried service and multiple warning-type signboards, we revisit these spaces for their wholesome, homely fare. On top of our list is salli boti; here, the creaminess of slow-cooked meat is coupled with crunchy potato sticks. Wash it down with Pallonji’s soda.AT Kyani & Co., Jer Mahal Estate, 657, Jagannath Shankar Seth Road, Dhobi Talao, Marine Lines.TIME 7 am to 7 pm; Sundays, 7 am to 4 pmCALL 8928616793
. Kerala chicken: Mallu food is a mood, and the Kerala chicken is a semi-dry dish eaten as a snack or paired with biryani or parotta. Not meant for the weak-hearted, this dish has all the zing to set your palate on a riotous culinary joyride.AT Hotel Kerala Deluxe, No 10-A, Pitha Street, behind Saraswati temple, Fort.TIME 12.30 pm to 12 amCALL 22042351
. Bagdadi chicken fry: Head here for a no-frills halt to savour a desi-style marinated fried chicken with a fried potato on the side. Save room for a full meal of boti and bhuna masala.AT Bagdadi Restaurant, Tulloch Road, behind The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bunder, Colaba. TIME 7 am to 12.30 amCALL 09167237117
BEST OF THE REST
Chefs at work at Shalimar Hotel
. Chicken stew: The last word in old-school, traditional Cantonese fare for the last 70-plus years, Baba Ling sticks to the agenda like a boss.AT Ling’s Pavilion, Building No 19, 21, MB Marg, near Regal Cinema, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.TIME 11.30 am to 10.30 amCALL 22850023
. Chicken biryani: The first outpost started in Grant Road in 1973, and since then the chain has fed many biryani cravings. Its founder Jaffer Bhai Mansuri’s philosophy was to identify the right ingredients for a quality product. Today, it has outlets in Mahim, Marine Lines and Mohammad Ali Road.AT Jafar Bhai’s Delhi Darbar, all city outlets. TIME 11 am to 1 amCALL 23875698
Chefs at Pritam restaurant; (right) butter chicken from Pritam
. Butter chicken: Pritam is credited for introducing butter chicken in Mumbai when they opened in 1942. The 80-year-old institution has ustaads who have mastered the art of lending a delicately smoked flavour to the chicken from the tandoor before transferring it into the makhani gravy. Originally, the dish was made up solely of butter and tandoori chicken. The ‘curry’ culture led to the addition of makhani gravy, thus rechristened as murgh makhani.AT Pritam, Swami Gyan Jivandas Marg, Dadar East; First floor, Bloom Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu. TIME 11 am to 12 am (Dadar); 12 pm to 3.30 pm; 7 pm to 12.30 am (Juhu) CALL 8591422913/9372824987
You can’t cook East Indian food from a book; recipes are family secrets, heirlooms almost, that move through generations. Naturally, dishes taste different in every household and more so as you move across different gaothans. This was the case with chef Freny Fernandes’ newly-opened Bandra eatery, Freny’s, which serves a fun mix of European dishes and East Indian fare with flair. Walking into the space is entering Fernandes’ part of town, and pulling up a seat for a meal inspired by the East Indian dishes she’s grown up eating, interspersed with influences from her travels.
The ambiance on the first floor and ground floor
We get straight to business and order a bowl of fugiyas (Rs 250), this is right after a complementary bowl that every table receives. The chef isn’t fooling around with this traditional fried balloon bread. The eggless variant arrives piping hot, fluffy and slightly on the sweeter side, just the way we like it. Eggless fugiyas aren’t as moist as the ones made with egg, and many East Indians might be used to the latter.
But Fernandes extends the famed bread to vegetarians. And for this EI, whose grandmother always prepared the bread minus the egg, it’s a bite full of memories. A contemporary twist comes in the form of a bottle masala dusting which is tasty, and an intense garlic-ey dip on the side whose texture and pairing we do not prefer. We say our goodbyes to peri-peri and hop on Fernandes’ bottle masala trend. We get fries with the dusting (Rs 320) that comes with a tomato jam hinting all of sweet paprika and makes for a great combo. The Brazilian lemonade (Rs 275) is refreshing despite the more-than-usual bitterness and being unstrained.
While we wait, we soak in the busy interiors on the first floor, an all-day dining vibe with powder blue panelling on the walls, a fabric chandelier, and couch and wooden seating mismatched with lovely homely accents including doilies and family photographs. We prefer the ground floor décor comprising a large French door with a border of blue glazed tiles, lemon tree ceiling wallpaper and a peninsula table surrounded by high chairs. You also get a view of a functioning candy floss machine outside. Brownie points for the retro playlist that have us grooving throughout the meal.
Giving the European parts of the menu with pizzas, pastas and salads a miss, we try out key East Indian dishes starting with cutlet pav sliders (Rs 450), a Vasai-style potato-heavy chicken patty, with tomato, caramelised onions, and a peri-peri sauce that brings a kick of heat. We would prefer less of the sweet spread on the jackfruit variant of the indyal (vindaloo) tacos (Rs 375) for the vindaloo flavours and tomato salsa to shine through. It comes with purple cabbage to lift every bite with freshness and crunch. There are pork and chicken variants of the taco, too; the overall menu has a good mix of vegan options. For mains, Peter’s mutton curry (Rs 650) with potatoes gives us an earthy and thick gravy. The puris fish curry (Rs 620), a coconut milk-based yellow curry, also called kujit, is a much more fragrant version of the usually tangy and spicy curry, with garlic-ey and gingery accents.
Peter’s mutton curry
The highlight was the desserts from Fernandes’ dessert bar Moner. The personal touches and memories in every dessert make the dishes sweeter. Every Sunday sundae (Rs 600) comes with layers of custard cream, vanilla bean gelato, raspberry jelly and fruit; Matilda cake (Rs 500), makes chocolate-y goodness from the eponymous movie is a cinematic dream come true; and the Fernandes Rocher (Rs 600) has salty and sweet notes with chocolate mousse, salted caramel and hazelnut praline and a crunchy tuile; it is a much-elevated version of the popular chocolate.
The desserts are a must-try
Freny’s holds up to the promise of a cosy dining and bar space with excellent desserts and more than a handful of gems on the menu. It warrants another visit for the politest staff, Monica’s chicken roast and fluffy fugiyas.
Freny’sAt: Waterfield Road, Opposite China Gate, Bandra West. Time: 12 pm to 12 am Call: 7770014123
**** Exceptional, *** Excellent, ** very Good, * Good, Average. Freny’s didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
The New Year, across cultures, is a time to usher in new beginnings and share some family time. Chinese New Year is a Lunar New Year that marks the arrival of spring, unlike the Gregorian New Year celebrated on January 1. The Chinese zodiac has a cycle of 12 years, each dedicated to an animal. This cycle is the year of the dragon, which is considered a strong symbol for prosperity.
Steamed fish on the New Year menu represents abundance
Chef Huang Te Sing of The Oriental Blossom, Hotel Marine Plaza, quips, “It’s our Diwali. We welcome the spring and pray to our ancestors; celebrations include dragon and lion dances.” The chef was born in India but his family roots trace to Guangzhou in China. “For New Year’s Eve dinner, we prepare a 10-dish banquet. Food is offered to the ancestors with a prayer for protection. On the day, we visit each other and exchange greetings,”he shares.
Every dish on the menu has a meaning. A whole fish, called yu in Mandarin, is a symbol of abundance. While spring rolls represent a gold bar of wealth, noodles depict longevity and healthy life; a whole duck or chicken is a symbol of fertility, virility and support. “Pork or chicken dumplings are money bags, and the entire family comes together to make them for the occasion,” he adds.
Mainly a meaty banquet, vegetarian fare includes vegetables diced in cashew nuts and served with rice. “The one dish, which is my favourite, is the family hot pot with vegetables, fish and meat balls. It represents togetherness. Lobster represents the dragon. We call it ‘longxia’, which translates to dragon prawn. This year, it will be the special dish,” he explains.
chef Huang Te Sing. Pics/Anurag Ahire
At the restaurant, the special Chinese New Year menu, Taste of Heritage, is an exclusive set menu to honour Chinese New Year customs. The spread features 10 dishes, including the auspicious chicken and prawns prosperity New Year soup, succulent duck spring rolls, and the exquisite lobster with cashews in kung pao sauce.
As per the traditional Chinese banquet style, each dish will be presented one by one, starting with the self-service family bowls of hearty soups. From golden roasted chicken to Buddha’s delight, patrons can savour the unique flavours of each course. Don’t miss the Hong Kong-style soy noodles and fresh fruit platters with assorted ice cream to sweeten the celebration.
On: February 10, 12.30 pm to 2.45 pmAt: The Oriental Blossom, Hotel Marine Plaza, Marine Drive. Call: 7045941315Cost: Rs 3,000 (set menu per head)
Lobster with cashew nuts in kung pao sauce
Lobster will be a main dish on the New Year menu as it is called dragon prawn in Mandarin and represents the dragon
INGREDIENTS>> 1 lobster (500 gm) >> 5 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped ginger, (1 inch; skinned and chopped) >> 2 green onions (cut into 1.5-inch slices) >> 50 gm cashew nuts, roasted >> 6 to 7 dry red chilli, chopped >> 2 tbsp chilli oil >> 1 tbsp oyster sauce>> 200 ml cooking oil for frying >> 100 gm corn flour (to coat the lobster meat before frying)
SEASONING>> 1 tbsp light soy sauce >> ¼ tsp salt to taste >> ¼ tsp sugar >> 1 tsp chicken broth powder (optional) >> 1 tbsp corn starch>> 100 ml water
METHODClean the lobster and separate the tail section from the head. Cut the tail section in half to remove the tail meat; devein and cut the meat into bite size pieces. Coat the lobster pieces with corn flour. Heat the oil in a wok/kadai and fry the lobster shells (head and tails) first for five minutes till they are red, and set aside. Fry the meat pieces for two to three minutes till it is 80 per cent cooked, and remove. Remove excess oil and keep only one tbsp in the wok. Add chopped garlic and ginger and sautée it for a few seconds. Add the fried lobster pieces along with red chilli, cashew nuts, green onions and stir fry for two to three minutes on high flame. Add seasoning and stir fry for two to three minutes till the sauce thickens. Arrange lobster head and tail on the serving plate, and pour the cooked lobster meat.
The special menu
>> An abundant mealChef Raymond Wong, master chef, By The Mekong, The St Regis Mumbai, puts his favourite family dish on the menu — treasure fried rice combo with roasted honey cha siew chicken. “Cooking it together as a family on the new year is believed to bring prosperity, happiness and is also lucky,” says Wong. Other delicacies include noble wok fried lobster with king oyster mushroom in truffle sauce, wealthy crispy golden corn with edamame in yellow Pino chilli sauce and the Propertius stewed long cabbage in Hong Kong olive sauce.TILL February 18; 7 pm to 11.30 pmAT By The Mekong, St Regis Mumbai, Lower Parel.CALL 8657907732
The ancestral menu
>> Sea view celebrationsSavour the festivities with ancestral home-style dishes of dragon pumpkin pie, mock meat jiaozi, dragon shrimp wonton, stir crispy chilli, steamed whole St Peter’s fish, ginger soy scallion, lamb in whole garlic, poon choi and festive Lunar New Year fried rice.FROM February 9 to 18; 7 pm to 1 am (all days), 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm (weekends)AT Dashanzi, JW Marriott Mumbai, Juhu.CALL 9004616506
>> Dine-in delightsPair chiu chou potato, chicken black pepper, succulent lamb chop with spicy sauce, and the aromatic baby cabbage rice with drinks like flaming dragon, Chinese fizz or a stiff Beijing old fashioned. TILL February 29; Monday to Thursday, 12 pm to 11 pmAT Pa Pa Ya, Palladium Mall, BKC and Malad.CALL 7400433430
>> Festive flavoursThe limited-edition menu includes lobster and mozzarella kadaifi dim sum with Japanese mayo, lotus root-wrapped exotic mushroom dumpling topped with a fermented chilli sauce, a three-style eggplant to a hearty claypot chicken in emperor sauce. Save room for the dessert, rightly named Lucky Dragon — a white sesame sponge laced with praline, kumquat compote, and ginger mousse.TILL March 7AT Yauatcha Mumbai, Raheja Tower, Bandra Kurla Complex.CALL 9222222800
This is a jumbo coffee morning. I need coffee in an IV,” said Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. As clips from the American comedy-drama television series continue to take over the social media, we head to Stand By Coffee, a newly-opened café that we know Gilmore would approve of. While drinking coffee in an IV wouldn’t be possible, the menu is an exhaustive one, offering coffee-infused hot chocolates, espresso-based beverages, a huge variety of iced and cold coffee, hot house specials, cold brew and tonic and coffee-based mocktails.
On a busy Tuesday morning, we step into the café, which despite being barely a month old, is already filled with corporates conducting meetings or working on their projects. There is an al fresco space conjoining the interiors across two floors. While the first floor exudes a formal vibe with wood-finished seating, the second floor is conceptualised, presumably keeping in mind a more relaxed ambiance. The latter has bookshelves, vases with pothos, couches and cushions.
Orange zest mocha. Pics/Devanshi Doshi
We place the order at the counter, pay on the spot and wait for the food to be served to us. It takes a long time (nearly 25 minutes) and a reminder before our first dish — kimchi melt (Rs 360) — is served. We opt for the Hokkaido bread (they also serve sourdough) on the recommendation of the waitstaff. “It is a fluffy, milky bread from [Japan’s] Hokkaido which goes best with kimchi. However, if you like your bread to be crispy, we suggest you go for sourdough,” they explain. The breads are chunky and soft, and melt on the first bite. It is sandwiched in between is a sweet-and-sour combination of the kimchi tossed in gochujang sauce and topped with fontina cheese. This is served alongside green chutney and sriracha mayo. The sandwich is the perfect blend of flavours from across the globe and gets a thumbs up.
Nutella mocha frappe
Next in line is cantina (Rs 500), a healthy and filling bowl comprising chicken/tofu, tortilla chips and brown rice. It is served with small portions of salsa roja, salsa verde, sour cream, guacamole paste and pico di gallo. We order the version with tofu, which is fresh. This bowl serves two. We recommend you save your tortilla chips and guacamole paste for the end as nibbles while sipping on your coffee/ beverage.
A view of the interiors of the cafe
The Nutella mocha frappe (Rs 280) is a bestseller. With hints of coffee in every sip (it has double shots of espresso in it), this offers a good balance of sweet and bitter. The orange zest mocha (Rs 280) from the hot house specials will not win the sweet-toothed over but will find fans among dark coffee addicts. It consists of 54 per cent dark chocolate (Callebaut), espresso and malta orange zest.
Burnt basque cheesecake
The cold brew passion spritzer (Rs 250) mocktail is the outright winner. It is fruity, refreshing and bitter, all at once. It is also the one that will make it to many Instagram stories owing to its arresting and distinct hues of coffee brown and deep yellow. “The cold brew is brewed in-house for over 24 hours. All coffee beans are sourced from Chikkamagaluru, and are 100 per cent Arabica, while mixers are freshly made in-house,” the server informs us. We end the meal on a cheesy note with the burnt Basque cheesecake (Rs 340), which is served with poached figs, berry compote and roselle jam.
Stand By CoffeeAt: Kakad Estate, Dr RG Thadani Marg, near Poddar Hospital, opposite HP Petrol Pump, Worli.Time: 8 am to 11 PMCall: 9137014580
**** Exceptional, *** Excellent, ** very Good, * Good, Average. Stand By Coffee didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
August sipped away/like a bottle of wine,’ sang Taylor Swift in the eponymous track, August, from the album, Folklore (2020). When this writer first heard the song, it reminded them of a Robert Burns poem. But that is the high point of literature and pop-culture that the 2024 Grammy Award-winner for Album Of The Year brings. For content creator Deep Pathare, the artist was more than just a musical icon. She became the inspiration for his latest pop-up behind the bar at KMC* in Fort for a special Taylor Swift night on February 10.
“She is an icon,” Pathare remarks over the phone, describing Swift as the biggest thing in pop culture since Madonna in the 1980s. “Her lyrics are so relatable and colour every mood,” he notes. Aside from his fandom, this was one of the reasons why Pathare turned to Swift as the inspiration for a special curated cocktail session.
Whiskey on ice/Sunset on vine
The head mixologist at KMC*, Jishnu AJ, shares, “The Night Shift is a platform where we offer creators, and even customers, who are interested in the art of cocktails an opportunity to step behind the bar. Pathare approached us, and we were very interested in the idea of bringing in the themes of Taylor Swift’s lyrics into a curation of drinks,” he adds.
Swift forms one dimension of the cocktails, Pathare adds. “When we were sitting down for our first discussion, her songs were one of the major themes but also the city of New York. The album 1989, for instance, is inspired by Swift’s recollections of the time spent in the city. I am also a big fan of the classic Prohibition Era drinks and cocktails. So, we worked with Jishnu on themes that were built around the city of New York, the vibe of the classic drinks with the essence of Taylor Swift’s songs,” notes Pathare.
Deep Pathare (left) with Jishnu AJ
The result is a curation of four special cocktails named after her songs. “Each of these drinks is a Taylor Swift inspired-take of a classic cocktail. For instance, the Whiskey on ice/sunset on vine is inspired by the eponymous lines from the song Gorgeous by the pop star. It is a New York sour — whiskey with a dash of red wine, with our own twist of pear cinnamon and Supasawa,” Jishnu explains. Remarking about another drink, Last Christmas, the mixologist says, “It brings the combination of sponge cake, dry fruits and nuts with a dash of vodka. It will feel like Christmas in a glass,” he chuckles. Pathare’s favourite is a take on the classic Aviation, a gin-based drink that defines both New York and the musician’s high-flying lyrics.
While it is impossible to reduce Swift to one particular flavour, Pathare remarks, “She is so iconic that it is almost intangible as an experience. She is on her Eras tour, and I hope to catch her in June this year, if I am lucky. But I wanted to share that vibe with people. It is all about the experience,” he says. Does this mean people walking into the bar should dress up to a Swiftie vibe, we ask? “Not really. It is all about the music, the cocktails and the experience. You can expect a vibe that celebrates her lyrics, music and the New York style,” Pathare concludes. On: February 10; 8 pm onwardsAt: KMC*, first floor, Kitab Mahal, near Excelsior Cinema, Fort. Call: 9987653397
Ingredients>> 60 ml gin>> 10 ml blue pea>> 10 ml elderflower>> 10 ml sugar syrup>> 10 ml Supasawa
MethodAdd the gin, blue pea, elderflower, sugar syrup and supasawa in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.Courtesy: Deep Pathare and Jishnu AJ, head mixologist
For a taste of the classic flaky and buttery croissants, call up the good folks at this cloud kitchen. They offer fun variations and fillings; the almond and pain au chocolat are our favourites.AT The Bread Next Door, Vasai.LOG ON TO @thebreadnextdoor2021CALL 7387645371COST Rs 130
Back in fashion
The rage around pinwheel croissants might have calmed down a bit, but this cafe is bringing it back with its pinwheel croissant burgers in truffle mushroom and spicy scrambled eggs.AT Cafe Noir, World Crest, Lodha, Upper Worli, Lower Parel.COST Rs 425 onwards
This croissant loaf makes for the perfect sandwiches at home. Keep some lettuce and veggies at hand or a jar of peanut butter to go with a slice.AT ITC Grand Central - Nutmeg The Gourmet Shop, Dr Ambedkar Road, Parel.COST Rs 550
Sweet and savoury
Savour the last of strawberries this season wrapped within a crunchy croissant. This box of two includes flavours like strawberry cream and strawberry chocolate. We suggest you opt for their classic buttery croissants if you want a taste of the OG. They offer a range of savoury croissants, too.AT House of Amel.LOG ON TO @houseofamelCALL 7506307607 COST Rs 600 (for strawberry edit)
A crunchy bite
Salad sandwiches are always a hit; replace the bread with a croissant and you’ve got a winner. Take, for instance, this crab and corn sandwich or egg salad sandwich with a buttery croissant.AT Le Croissant, Lokhandwala, Andheri West. COST Rs 425 (crab and corn) and Rs 325 (egg salad)
Mix it up
King of fusion and Parsi fare, Shahriyar Atai’s Bhonu Appetite is a cloud kitchen that will open on Perry Cross Road in Bandra West soon. This kitchen serves a great muska chicken/paneer butter croissant sandwich which is cheesy and well-spiced.AT Bhonu AppetiteCALL 9821041018COST Rs 295
What’s in the bread?
The name croissant, French for crescent, was inspired by the shape of the baked item. The basic ingredients to make these pastry-cum-breads include butter, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and milk. The secret to a flaky and fluffy croissant is butter. Butter is folded between multiple layers of dough in a process called lamination. This way, when the dough is in the oven, the butter melts and steam lifts the layers up into an airy and buttery delight. It might seem like a tedious task to make croissants at home, but all you really require is time, patience and practice.
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