Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Three Times Tables

After a very rocky start (and several slightly inedible meals), The Table has become one of Mumbai’s most popular stand-alone restaurants.  It’s whacky décor and seemingly extensive menu of small and large plates (they change for lunch, brunch and dinner) make it a place you have to keep going back to.

It’s a bit of a challenge spending time with my family now that I don’t live at home anymore. It’s rare when everyone’s home for dinner at the same time, and it just so happened that we were all home for dinner one night chatting about our plans for the bank holiday (YAAAAY!) the next day. It had been ages since we’d been out for lunch together, so we decided to make a day of it. Called a couple of places and settled on The Table. I know I've reviewed this place before, but with the ever changing menu, it almost feels like it's new every time I visit! 

As you must know by now, we’re a family of foodies who more often than not don’t have any sense of quantity. The food was great, as always, with a few exceptions. 

We ordered a massive amount of starters, because you know, we like to eat lots :D 

Fries with Cajun Mayo, and our old favourite: Zucchini Spaghetti with sliced almonds and Parmesan. I've tried making it at home multiple times, it just doesn't have the same amazing flavour it does here. 

Zucchini Spaghetti

Spicy Grilled Calamari Salad
Roasted red beet salad with goat’s cheese, orange, mint & pine nuts. I'm not a major fan of beetroot, but this salad is nicely prepared. The beetroot is cut thinly which doesn't over power me with earthiness. The orange and goats cheese lend a nice bite to it, and the pine nuts add texture in an otherwise slightly mushy salad. 

Roasted Red Beet salad
 Boneless chicken wings – plates and plates of them with a sweet soy ginger glaze. This may just be The Table's signature dish - SQUARE shaped chicken wings drenched in this super sweet sauce. I spend a lot of time dipping my fries into the glaze once we're done with the chicken (about 10 seconds after the plate is put down in front of us). Yummy. 

The Fish Tacos weren't super awesome, that I'm willing to bet that had we not ordered so many other amazing dishes we'd have loved this one too. 

Fish Tacos
 I watched Chef Alex demonstrate how to make these meatballs once upon a time a Kala Ghoda, and I have been hooked on them ever since. If you ignore the thinly sliced pomme frittes on top (known as salli to Parsis everywhere), its a relatively healthy dish. Drenched in tomato gravy with melted cheese hugging each meatball, this is a definite 'must order' dish. 

Meatballs & Pomme Frittes
 I didn't like the grilled octopus salad at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure it made me sick the next day. I've had it a few times before, but they've obviously changed the recipe. The octopus was dry, and the flavours of the dish didn't really go together.  

We'd reached a point where no one could eat any more. In addition to this, we had also ordered Korean Beef with a Kim chi pancake, tenderloin tacos and a warm chèvre salad. All fantastic in their own rights, but I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures before they were attacked. We decided we would split 2 mains - the beefy mac and cheese which is a mac and cheese with minced beef baked into it, and the provencal lamb ragout which I wasn't too crazy about because it tasted a lot more like mutton to me than it did lamb. The rest of my table loved it though. My brother's girlfriend orders it every chance she gets! 

Silky lamb ragout

 Barely able to sit straight, we ordered ourselves the Pain Perdue with bananas and vanilla bean ice cream. YUM. 

Divine Pain Perdue

So pretty

We had grand plans to shop, visit people and generally bum around after lunch, which all went to pot. We stumbled to our respective cars, I’m not sure what the others did, but I drove straight home and took a long, long nap. 

All that eating is exhausting!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Finding Nemo

It’s been a while since I’ve been out for a meal. Yes I know – you’re shocked. Doesn’t mean I’m not eating amazing food; it just means that I’ve been lazy and ordering in. But when a friend (and partner) opens a restaurant, it means you have to go! The third in a chain of awesome restaurants, Café Nemo will open its doors today.

We were invited for a preview dinner a few days ago, and jumped excitedly at the chance. (I have a friend who has been there 4 out of 5 days since they started doing preview nights – any guesses who???!)  

Café Nemo is just off the sea link, in a strangely narrow lane in Worli fishing village. Driving up to the restaurant, you see a bright yellow coloured building, with hanging plants along the walls. Walking into the restaurant, the first thing I saw was a plate of chocolate topped profiteroles, and some other cake. That’s all I saw. I can talk about the cool décor, the different coloured rooms, and the bar, but the truth is I barely noticed any of it, all I could see were those profiteroles. Also, there are loads of other blogs who will talk to you about the walls – I was more interested in the food (and drink).

We started off at the bar (I did notice there was a cool fish on it) with a couple of interesting drinks – a Thai Bloody Mary with Thai Red Chilli, galangal, kaffir lime, lemon grass and vodka and a Zucchini By The Sea which is zucchini juice, sea salt and vodka. I absolutely LOVED the bloody mary, it’s like drinking cold tom yum soup with vodka. My partner-in-crime-and-sparkles loved them so much, she had FIVE. The Zucchini by the sea is an acquired taste I think – it seems amazingly light and fresh, but too much vodka for me not enough other taste to mask it. The El Mysterio is a tequila cocktail, which another little blogger we were with (the tiniest one) liked, but I couldn’t even look at (tequila after my wedding makes me cry).

Bloody mary
We decided we needed to eat a little bit in between all the cocktail tasting we were doing, and sat down to attempt some ordering. The benefits of knowing the owners – they make the decisions for you! We ordered pretty much most of the small plates on the menu that night, and then sat back to wait (all the while, ostensibly sipping on a Southern Exposure, which is celery juice and gin…. Yummmm). What you see next is an absurd collection of every cocktail on the menu, mocktails for my brother, and vodka for us. 

so many drinks
I decided to depart from convention and order dessert first. In the last 2 years, I have never managed to reach a dessert course, which I’m always ok with but the profiteroles were driving me mad. We started with 5 (I ate 4). They were pretty amazing and filled with a coffee flavoured custard, topped with chocolate and shredded coconut. At one point, I was doing shots with them (this is when you take a piece, put your head back and put the whole thing in your mouth in one bite). Yummy. Must have.

Next stop- Bao Bao land. I’d been recommended the bao bao buns before I even stepped into the place. We decided to skip modesty, and get one of each. Order pup- 2 penang chickens, 1 beef bulgogi and a char sui pork bao!

The penang chicken bao was fantastic – covered in an amazing thai sauce, with peanuts and basil, the chicken was superbly cooked and the bun was so soft I could have wrapped myself up in it. The beef bulgogi one will do better if shredded (which it probably might be soon). If you know me, you know I love char sui pork – the bao was soft, succulent and flavourful.

char sui pork!
In between bites of bao (say that ten times, go on I dare you), we ordered the loaded black bean dip, which was a silky smooth black bean dip loaded with guac, sour cream and accompanied by tortilla chips. I’m a bake your chips, don’t fry them kind of girl, but these were pretty awesome.

Chips & dip
The Gyoza was the highlight of my night. We ordered a vegetarian one – tofu and shitake – and had to order a second. It was that incredible. Crunchy and pan fried on the outside, soft, smooth and strangely meaty inside, the flavours come together with an incredible punch on your palette.

We were a bit hesitant to order tenderloin tartare in India (raw beef, produce etc.) but we needn’t have worried. It came on pieces of fried nori topped with shichimi sauce and was pretty awesome.

Also on the small plates were the BBW pork soft shell taco, Korean fried chicken (awesome when you’re drinking beer) and a bacon pizza with chives and spicy gochujang sauce that was really great. The bacon flavor came through nicely, the sauce highlighted the dish and the chives just lofted it to lordliness.

Look at it again... 
Now, how were we going to eat mains? How could we? It was pretty simple – everything with meat please.

The Seoul Bowl reminded me of Korean bibimbap, and came with rice, some greens, chili, peanuts, fried onion, char sui pork and a fried egg. If I’m ever not really hungry, I may just order this and sit with it all evening. It’s a perfect meal in a bowl, and I could sit with it and a book and be happy.

bowl full of seoul
The Galbi steak with kimchi puree and morning glory was a surprise, it came out with a whole potato that was finely sliced. I’ve seen this on pinterest and have been dying to try it out. The steak is good, nicely flavoured and the potato accompanies it well. There was a mix up in the kitchen, so we didn’t get the medium rare we’d asked for, but we were too full to eat it again so didn’t bother ordering another.


The ternderloin timpani was so cool to look at, and though a struggle for me to eat, absolutely hearty, warming and divine. Beef bolognaise, mixed with macaroni and gruyere, wrapped in some kind of pasta made from corn starch and then baked. It was like unwrapping a Christmas present, and tasted as fun as one.

What I love about Café Nemo is that they’ve been really bold with the different flavours they’re marrying together and they work. The food is fun, interesting, and packs an almost unexpected punch sometimes. I love the Japanese influence in a lot of their dishes, and will definitely be going back as many times as they can feed me.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Yoga House

Working on a yoga festival immediately makes you conscious of the food you eat, the way you exercise and how far you can stretch. I don’t know about you, but I used to be able to walk around my own head once upon a time. (No need to get excited, it’s a combination of Adho Mukha Svanasana and Dhanurasana done in a circular motion.)

Look - yoga on the road (thats me on the left)
The Yoga House is a café/ yoga centre that opened in Bandra a few years ago. It’s completely organic, and much to my disappointment once upon a time, completely vegetarian too.

Imagine how excited I was about the place once I went vegan! I’m not a huge fan of salad; I get hungry an hour after I eat it, even if I’ve had a whole lettuce and accompaniments. I decided to order the Quinoa burger – oddly titled ‘I am Detoxifying’. It’s a quinoa patty, with watermelon seeds, basil, coriander and spring onion, served with hummus.

Super yum
It is FANTASTIC. It doesn’t really feel like there’s no meat in it. It’s nice and filling, and really sits in your stomach; you don’t need a snack at 4pm after that. I use the hummus to cover the burger for ‘sauce' because it's ever so slightly dry without it. A drizzle of olive oil on the size could do wonders by adding that slightly moist element to the burger. Still amazing without it though.

We also ordered ourselves the Somerset Tartine ‘I am English’ – with cheddar, zucchini, mustard, tomato and onion,

the Mediterranean Salad ‘I am Sunbathing’ – essentially a greek salad with bulgur wheat,

Too many onions for me
their signature hash browns – a large pan sized piece of grated potato with mozzarella, red and green peppers, spinach and herbs,

MMMM potato
and the Vegetarian Brown Rice Paella - 'I am Dancing'  - which is broccoli, carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, raisins, almonds, garlic and onion.

The paella and Mediterranean salad aren't too great, I'd definitely give them a miss. The rest of the food is hearty, healthy and keeps you happy.

The food at Yoga House is fantastic, and if you’re into lovely earthy flavours, you just can't get better. They’ve moved house from their 3 room café to a huge bungalow ten minutes further from where they used to be and expanded their menu, classes and outlook :D 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Jimmy Jammy

The amazing part about my new house is that the kitchenaid gets pride of place on a countertop, which means that I can bake ANY TIME I WANT without the hassle of lugging it from my room to the kitchen, unpacking, washing and repacking. I’ve gone a little crazy the last few weeks and made everything from crème anglais (for an ice cream that failed), to pizza dough, to meringues, to a variety of other baked goods, all with my trusty blue mixie (mixie, nixie, twixie… get it??). I’ve tried this jam tart a few times (thank you Smitten Kitchen) and have made some adjustments based on material availability in India as well as what was in the house when I decided to cook.

Last slice anyone?

Jimmy Jammy Tart adapted from Smitten Kitchen

What you need
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
130 grams room temperature butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1 large whole egg
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar
1 jar of jam (around 450 grams) (I used Bhuira jam for this – made with love by a friends mum up in the mountains - and it was delicious. You get a whole variety of flavours to try, not necessarily just in dessert, but also on toast or even on its own.)
So good

Step 1
Mix the butter and sugar together until its smooth. (I use very coarse sugar, so it takes a few minutes more than it takes other people to mix. The butter should be a lovely pale yellow before you move onto the next step.)
Step 2
Add the egg + second yolk to the butter-sugar mixture once its smooth. If you’re using a stand mixer, this process becomes super easy because you just pour things into the bowl and watch it work. Make sure this has combined before adding the dry ingredients.
Step 3
Whisk your flour, semolina, baking powder and salt together before adding to the
Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. This is a sticky, fall apart dough that’s absolutely yummy if you want to keep picking at it (I did!).
Step 4
Take a third of the dough and transfer to a lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into the shape of a log that’s roughly 2 inches thick and 7-8 inches long. Wrap tightly in clingflim and put in the fridge.
Step 5
Put the rest of the dough in a pie or tart dish. The original recipe says to use one with a removable bottom, but I never seem to be able to find one when I’ve decided to make this. I always end up using a glass pie dish and it comes out just as well. Use a dish that’s got a 9-inch diameter, any smaller and you will have too much dough left over.
Using your hands, press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour. (If you’re using a glass pie dish, make sure you take it out ten minutes before you put it into the oven or it will shatter when cold meets hot.)
Dough chilling, waiting to be baked
Step 6
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C.
Take your jar of jam and slop it around on the pie base. Make sure it's spread out evenly.
Even enough?
Step 7
Take the dough log out of the fridge and using a very sharp knife, quickly cut it into thin circles. I’m incredibly impatient and not at all precise, so mine varied in thickness and size. It doesn’t really matter all that much it tastes delicious no matter what.
Waiting to be carved
Arrange them in concentric circles over the jam to form a top. You need to them to overlap slightly. Any leftover bits of dough can be stuck and squashed into gaps when you’re finished being artistic. 
So many gaps to fill!
Whisk the remaining egg white with a teaspoon of water in a little bowl until frothy; and then brush onto the tart lid. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake it for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.

Let it cool completely and serve with ice cream, or simply on its own.