Sunday, 31 January 2016

Mood Indigo

Indigo on Mandlik Road just off Colaba Causeway has graced Mumbai with it's fine dining modern European cuisine since 1999. Once upon a time, the restaurant held Sunday brunches that were legendary - we'd get there by 1pm and leave only after the band packed up and the last crumbs of dessert were swept away. 

This restaurant has been a personal favourite of mine on and off since it first opened. The building itself is an old colonial bungalow that has been restored and lends its own charm to the meal. The bar is a favourite haunt for a lot of expats and those visiting home on occasion. I love that when we make a booking, we get personalised menus with our names printed on them. I have countless menus stored somewhere from birthdays, parties and anniversaries. 

My favourite dishes at Indigo start with the half dozen Cochin oysters, as well as the beef carpaccio drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. 

The risottos are all lovely, we usually get one with mushroom, asparagus and chicken, or even just a vegetarian one. For the main course, I have been eating the grilled steak there since time immemorial. I can also recommend the lamb chops, they're pretty amazing too. 

Dessert is a soufflé of some kind, or anything chocolate on the menu. 

If you're looking for a date place, or a family dining experience, this is the place to go to. 

The blue wall
Porcini & goats cheese ravioli 
My very favourite - bolgnese
Balsamic grilled portobello with Mediterranean couscous

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Snapshots of Istanbul

A few months ago, we decided to go on a sibling trip to Istanbul that coincided with my birthday and what was sort of a long weekend. The initial plan was 4 days in a smaller place by the sea and then 4 days in Istanbul, but due to lack of planning and not being able to agree on anything, we ended up staying in Istanbul for almost 9 days. 

The city is an incredible combination of old world charm and nouveau hipster. In fact, if I had to describe the Istanbul we saw succinctly, it's plain old modern hipster. The cafes, the coffee shops, the people - they're all just so incredibly cool. 

We wandered the streets as much as we could, battled contrary weather gods (the sun scorched us one day and then the rain soaked us the next), and ate as many lamb kebabs as we possibly could. 

I have to say that being in a city for 9 days tends to make you a little lazy. The things you'd like to pack into one day can be held off for a day or so, or put off till 'later' and you end up doing less than you originally wanted to. 

This is my first post of what will be quite a few for Istanbul - almost a teaser! 
Our picturesque air bnb apartment
Beautiful blue Bosphorus
A first look at Turkish pastries
Need liquid nourishment!
Hands down the best place we ate at
Grilled Haloumi
Kuzu sis
My amazing grilled veal steak
Fried quails eggs and toast for breakfast!
Taking a break at the Dolmabahçe Palace
Trillions of kilos of Turkish Delight
Every street in Istanbul is packed with places like this
Top of the Galata Tower
From the top of the Galata Tower
A taco truck we found walking down some stairs
Mussels stuffed with rice, sound way more interesting than they taste
This is everywhere!
In the Spice Market

Monday, 25 January 2016

Made in Punjab, Fed in Malad

Our beautiful island city is connected by bridges, link roads and miles of cement and tar highways. As the city expands ever outward, as people move into the suburbs where housing is cheaper and more affordable, so does the eye of every restaurateur and shop owner. The access to large acres of land to build malls and restaurants on is unhindered, and consequently international fashion brands and top of the line restaurants open their doors in the suburbs. I've spent many Sundays driving to Malad, Goregaon, Ghatkopar and the like to find Forever 21, Nando's (don't judge me) and larger versions of the stores one sees in the only mall in town, Palladium. 

One Saturday saw my cousin and me winging it to Inorbit Malad, where we were to try Zorawar Kalra's Made In Punjab. I wasn't too enthusiastic about going to a mall restaurant to eat lunch, but changed my mind almost as soon as we sat down. 

Please mom, can I come for lunch too?
The staff was extremely welcoming and very eager to please. We asked them to give us tasting portions of everything, because we intended to eat as many dishes as we could, and they were more than happy to oblige. What followed was a gastronomic smorgasbord of epic Punjabi proportions. 

We started with a lightly flavoured lassi to soothe and line our stomachs. 

Kesar chhaas perhaps?
The tandoori guchchi was absolutely outstanding, I have never eaten a guchchi before, and couldn't stop raving about it. It's a sponge mushroom that is found in the hills of Shimla, Kinnaur, Kullu, Sirmaur and Chamba districts, among other places, and also in Jammu and Kashmir. Very delicious, and according to articles I've read, wildly in demand and therefore very expensive. 

The salmon tikka, which is one of their signatures, is actually a NORWEGIAN salmon tikka and was quite interesting. My favourite started was the mutton 'chaap' as they called it. 

Salmon Tikka with edible flowers

Mutton chaap
A chicken starter, can't remember the name
We asked for tiny katoris of food for our main course as well as a basket of mixed breads. The dal 'made in punjab' is probably one of the best dal makhanis I have eaten in my life. In fact, if you put a bowl of this dal next to a bowl of Peshawari's dal in front of me and had me try them blind folded, it would be difficult to identify which I liked more. 

Our mains
The murg makhani was lovely too, as was the mutton made in punjab. The guchchi pulao was once again absolutely smashing. I couldn't get over how lightly flavoured it was, and ate way more of it that I should have. 

Look at it again, it's so pretty
If you still have space in your stomach for dessert, I do recommend the jalebi and rabdi served in a martini glass. 

Dardi rabdi rabdi kardi
We stumbled out of there blissfully content and uncomfortably aware that we had an hour of bouncing around the backseat of a car to go. It didn't really matter, we were asleep within minutes. This is definitely a place to visit and eat at. They also do a lunch buffet which includes a lot of the menu favourites for working people. I highly recommend eating here. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Ciao Trattoria

Trattoria used to be my go to restaurant. It was the only place open after midnight, and the pizza was to die for. It was my date place, my after hours place, my after dance place; we spent hundreds of hours dancing at the next door (now closed) Library Bar; and my family dinner place. 

Like all restaurants in Mumbai, it moves in and out of consistency. The pizza is always amazing, it's the other stuff that was hit or miss at one point of time. Bear with me while I reminisce about my favourite foods there, and talk about our recent meal of only antipasti and dessert. 

Open kitchen where you watch your food cook

My pizza recommendations:
If you're vegetarian, the Fiama pizza with sliced onion and chilli flakes is divine. As non vegetarians go, we've got a few options. I went through a phase once upon a time where I was eating pepperoni and prawn pizzas, though I grew out of that habit quite quickly. The pepperoni pizza is good, as is the Calabrese pizza which is all the meat they have in the restaurant, slapped on with some spicy chilli flakes. I love the regular crust of Trattoria's pizzas but I am often outvoted and have to settle for a thin crust. 

Pepperoni & Prawn, from way back when
Pan seared foie gras rougié with raw mango sauce is unfortunately not a patch on the foie gras with sea cucumber and mango reduction that is available right next door at the Thai Pavilion. That's something I'd kill for. 

The pan grilled asparagus and goats cheese was surprisingly delicious, and very fresh, as was the bruschetta which has become bigger and more heavily loaded from the last time I was there. 

You won't go wrong with carpaccio, providing they're actually serving beef that day. Sorry, water buffalo. 

What do you for dessert?
Once upon a time, they served huge cones of brandy schnapps stuffed with whipped cream or ice cream. It was a common joke amongst my friends that I would wipe the plate down with my fingers, just to get at every bit of delicious goodness that I could. 

Badly pixellated, taking on an old old Nokia phone... me and my brandy schnapps
They've changed their formula now, and while you still get brandy schnapps, they are shaped like little baskets that ice cream is served in. The coconut ice cream and the bitter chocolate ice cream go fantastically well with the basket. I usually eat four baskets with one scoop of chocolate ice cream, but I've gone past the stage where I lick the plate clean. 

Foie gras
Asparagus and goats cheese

Brrrandy schnapps