Friday, December 23, 2005

Good Food I love to eat in Mumbai and Pune India

Vikram Karve

I love good food. And I love walking around searching for good food ( food walks I call them). Let me share with you, dear fellow foodie, some of my favourite eateries. Most of them are in South Mumbai, where I live, a few (where mentioned) are in Pune which is my home town which I visit quite often. Read on. It’s my very own Vikram Karve’s Value For Money Good Food Guide. I’ve walked there and eaten there. It’s a totally random compilation as I write as I remember and I may have missed out some of my favourites but I’ll add them on as and when memory jogs me and also keep adding new places I discover during my food walks. Try some places and let me know whether you liked it.

Vada Pav - CTO Vada Pav (Ashok Satam’s Stall) alongside the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) at Flora Fountain ( Hutatma Chowk). Or at Sahaydri at Churchgate.

Misal Pav – Vinay in Girgaum . Walk down Marine Drive, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Ladies Hostel ( it’s called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, walk a bit and Vinay is to your right.

Kheema Pav – Stadium. Next to Churchgate Station. Kyani at Dhobi Talao.

Seekh Kebabs – Ayubs ( Chotte Mian ). Take the lane to the left of Rhythm House Music Store at Kalaghoda and let your nose guide you.

Jeera Butter – Ideal Bakery. Kandewadi, Girgaum. And try the sugarcane juice at Rasvanti next door.

Chicken Stew ( Kerala Style),Malabar Paratha and Appams – Fountain Plaza. In the lane off Handloom House. Fort. [ Brings back nostalgic memories of Ceylon Bake House in Ernakulam Kochi (Cochin) ]

Chicken Biryani – Olympia. Colaba Causeway. In Pune it’s Dorabjee & Sons restaurant on Dastur Meher road off Sarbatwala Chowk in Pune Camp.

Mutton Biryani – Shalimar. Bhendi Bazaar. I like the Chicken Chilly Dry too.

Malvani Cuisine – Sachivalaya Gymkhana Canteen. Opposite Mantralaya. Nariman Point. Bombil Fry, Pomfret masala, Kombdi (Chicken) Vada and Lunch Thali.

Gomantak Cuisine - Sandeep Gomantak. Bazargate Street. Fort.

Chiken Masala and Khaboosh Roti – Baghdadi. Near Regal. Off Colaba Causeway.

Nihari – Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar. Near Metro.

Nalli Nihari – Noor Mohammadi. Bhendi Bazaar.

Berry Pulao – Brittania. Ballard Estate.

Puri Bhaji – Pancham Puriwala. Bazargate street. Opposite CST Station (VT).

Kolhapuri Cuisine – I go to ‘Purepur Kolhapur’ at Peru Gate Sadashiv Peth in Pune for authentic Kolhapuri Pandhra Rassa, Tambda Rassa and Kheema vati. In Kolhapur it’s Opal.

Gulab Jamun – Kailash Parbat. 1st Pasta Lane. Colaba Causeway.

Rasgulla – Bhaishankar Gaurishankar. CP Tank.

Khichdi – Khichdi Samrat. VP Road. CP Tank.

Vegetarian Thali and Chaas(buttermilk) – Bhagat Tarachand. Mumbadevi. Zaveri Bazar.

Navrattan Kurma – Vihar. JT Road. Churchgate.

Veg Burger and Chicken Cafreal Croissant – Croissants. Churchgate.

Tea while browsing books – Cha-Bar. Oxford Bookstore. Churchgate.

Just a refreshing cup of Tea – Stadium. Churchgate.

Ice Cream – Rustom. Churchgate.

Pav Bhaji – Lenin Pav Bhaji Stall. Khau Galli. New Marine Lines. Near SNDT.

Jalebi – Pancharatna Jalebi House. Near Roxy. Opera House.

Milk Shakes, Juices and uniquely flavored ice creams – Bachelor. Opposite Chowpatty.

Stuffed Parathas – Samovar. Jehangir Art Gallery.

Stuffed Omlettes and Steaks – Churchill. Colaba Causeway.

Sea food – Anant Ashram. Khotachiwadi. Girgaum.

Apple Pie and Ginger Biscuits – Yazdani Bakery. Cawasji Patel Street. Between PM Road and Veer Nariman Road. Fort.

Cakes – Sassanian Boulangerie. 1st Marine Street. Near Metro.

Buns, Breads and Pastries – Gaylord Bake Shop. Churchgate.

Falooda – Badshah. Crawford Market.

Curds – Parsi dairy. Princess Street.

Sandwiches – Marz-o-rin. Main Street. MG Road. Pune.

Chole Bhature – Monafood. Main Street. Pune.

Shrewsbury Biscuits – Kayani Bakery. East Street. Pune.

The mere thought of Shrewsbury biscuits evokes in me a sensation I cannot describe. I am feeling nostalgic and am off to Pune - for Shrewsbury at Kayani, wafers at Budhani, Sev Barfi at Bhavnagri, Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale, Biryani and Dhansak at Dorabjee, Misal at Ramnath, Sizzlers at The Place, Pandhra Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur, Mango Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde, Mastani at Kavare, Bhel at Saras Baug and on the banks of Khadakvasla lake, Pithla Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji and tak on top of Sinhagarh Fort, Chinese at Kamling ( Oh no. Sadly it’s closed down so I’ll go across to the end of East Street to the East End Chinese takeaway next to Burger King).
And guess what? The moment I reach Pune, I’ll walk across the station and enjoy a refreshing Lassi at Shiv Kailas. And then walk down in the hot sun to Main Street. One thing I’ll miss is the non-veg samosas at erstwhile Naaz on the West End corner at the entrance to Main Street. The good old Naaz and Kamling are two places I really miss.

See you then. It’s one in the afternoon and I’m hungry. I’m going out for lunch – guess where !

Dear fellow foodies. Please do send in your comments so I can keep updating.
Happy Eating ! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Art of Eating - Nihari at Jaffer Bhai's - Eating out in Mumbai: Vikram Karve

Vikram Karve

I look in front of me. I like what I see. I keep seeing, my eyes locked on to the target, as if by some mysterious, yet astonishing, force of attraction. Something is happening with me. Senses heighten; stimulated, aroused in a way I have never felt before. Waves of desire rise within me. I feel tremors of anticipation. My mouth salivates and I lick my lips lasciviously in eager expectation. I feast my eyes hungrily. My heart beats. I feel possessed. Intense passion, Lusty craving overwhelms me. I can’t control myself any longer. Wild with desire, I move towards my target, ready for the kill.

No. No. Dear Reader. Just wait a moment. The object of my desire - It’s not what you are thinking. What I am looking at, the object of my attention, the focus of my temptation, is a bowl Nihari – two succulent pieces of mutton floating in a rich nourishing gravy looking so luxuriant and tempting, that I just can’t wait to devour. But I control myself. Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating. It’s sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner.

The bowl of Nihari, so luxuriously appetizing; a Khameeri Roti, so soft and fluffy. It looks heavenly. I move closer. The tempting aroma - so enticing, so blissful - permeates within me, energizes my brain cells, activates my taste buds. My mouth waters. I am ready to eat.

Eating is not a gustatory experience alone, it’s visual and olfactory as well. Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. The Art of Eating. It’s Holistic. Multidimensional. Encompassing all domains of your inner being.

If you want to do full justice to good food you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine eating each and every dish, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye. Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”.

It’s true. I eat my food twice. First in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. And then I do the honours – actually go and eat it and enjoy the delightful experience.

Using my right thumb and forefinger, I lovingly pick small piece of meat from the gravy and delicately place it on my tongue. I close my eyes. Look inside. To focus my conscious energy. To accentuate my awareness. To concentrate. That’s the cardinal principle of the Art of Eating. You must always close your eyes during the process of eating. When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. Focus, eat mindfully, meditatively, honour your taste buds and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.

The meat is so tender that even a toothless person can eat it. It’s truly “Melt in the mouth” cuisine – like the famous Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow. Soft, succulent, juicy.

You don’t chew. You just gently squeeze the meat, softly rolling your tongue against the palate and the meat dissolves releasing its intoxicating flavours. It’s sheer bliss. Enlightenment. Gustatory Orgasm. Sensory Resonance. I do not have words to describe the exhilarating sensation.

That’s the hallmark of a genuine nourishing Nihari, the best part of the thigh muscle, specially selected prime marrow bones with generous portions of succulent meat, tenderized and marinated with curds, seasoned lovingly in the choicest of spices and dum-cooked to seal in the juices and flavours, slowly and gently, in a gravy carefully thickened with an assortment of flours of wheat, maize and dals as per the season and taste and garnished with thin strips of ginger and fine slices of fresh green chillies and a sprinkling of coriander.

I turn my attention to the Kameeri Roti. Holding the roti with my left hand I pull out a piece with my right. The texture is perfect – soft and fluffy. I sample a piece – yummy – it tastes good by itself; and why shouldn’t it? Whole-wheat atta kneaded with plenty of curds, seasoned with a bit of sugar and salt, fermented overnight in a moist cloth, flattened and cooked in a tandoor. Nourishing, luxuriant, ideal with the Nihari.

I dip a piece of roti in the thick gravy allowing it to soak in and place it on my tongue. Exquisite. A gentle bite. Tangy ginger and sharp chilli. A confluence of contrasting tastes. I absorb the riot of zesty flavours. It’s exciting, invigorating, perks me up and I am ready for what I am going to do next.

And what am I going to do next? You knew it didn’t you? I call for a marrow spoon, dig it into the marrow bone, scoop out some marrow and lick it on my tongue. I close my eyes and I can feel the nourishment coming all the way through. It’s a heavenly feeling.

I eat in silence. Mindfully. Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on my tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate my taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within me.
The succulent meat. The sumptuous gravy. The luxuriant fluffy Kameeri Roti. It’s a feast worthy of the Gods. An ambrosial repast.

I am in a supreme state of bliss. Is this enlightenment? Or gustatory delight. Maybe it’s meditative eating. Or let’s narrow it down to the art of eating a Nihari.

It’s simple. Create a positive eating atmosphere, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness. In a nutshell, this is ‘The Art of Eating’.


I used to visit two eateries on 1st Marine Street Dhobi Talao near Metro Cinema in Mumbai – Sassanian when in the mood for Parsi food or maybe a Roast Chicken, or to pick up delicious cakes, biscuits and freshly baked delights from their Boulangerie next-door and Punjabi Fish Mart for earthy deep fried fish best enjoyed piping hot by well fortified cast-iron stomachs on cold damp monsoon evenings. Sometime back, returning one evening from one of my food-walks, I noticed, in between these two, a newly opened restaurant - Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – with a takeaway section, from where I picked up a menu card and walked home. Later that night I read the menu card and was delighted to find on it my favourite non-vegetarian delicacy – Nihari. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I partook of the dish.
And soon I had my tryst with Nihari and experienced this delightful gustatory affair to remember.