Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yummy Yummy Mastani

Yummy Yummy MASTANI



What is the perfect end to a rich and heavy Mughlai Meal?

A kulfi? A phirnee? Well, I prefer a cool refreshing Falooda.

Like the ice cold Shahi Gulab Falooda I always have at Shalimar in Bhendi Bazar Mumbai after devouring my favorite tandoori raan masala and other spicy rich non-veg delights.

And what is a perfect end to a spicy fiery Kolhapuri Meal?

It is Mastani – no doubt about it – a cool, refreshing, lip-smaking Mastani to quench your fires and perk you up with it’s blissful sweet cool revitalizing effect.

Mastani is to Pune what Falooda is to Mumbai.

You get Mastani all over Pune. The first time I tasted Mastani when I was a small boy was at Kawre Cold Drink House near Ganpati Chowk off Laxmi Road, but now I feel that their Mastani isn’t as good as before, now there are so many places in Pune where you get good Mastani and Punekar’s have their favorites like Sujata in Sadashiv Peth, which is close to the “Kolhapuri” food district of Pune near Peru Gate, but I also like the Mastani at Gujar Mastani House near City Pride on Satara Road.

At Gujar Mastani House I order a “Bajirao Mastani”. If you look at the menu, you will get confused, as there feature all types of fancy Mastanis fortified with dry fruits and all sorts of rich high-calorie embellishments, which will in fact will make you feel heavy and slothful, rather than quench, stimulate, revitalize and perk you up. So remember the golden rule, the “signature” no-frills authentic item will always be at the top of the menu, least expensive in that class – so go ahead and order it.

The contents of the tall glass comprise an attractive tantalizingly appetizing looking and fragrant layered creamy milky liquid of increasing density topped with ice-cream, with a straw thrust vertically through.

The glass is so full, that in order not to spill the stuff, you first sip through the straw a bit of the deliciously sweet pineapple syrup at the bottom, which feels heavenly as it mingles with, permeates, and overcomes, the spicy “Kolhapuri” aftertaste on your tongue. And in these hot summer days of Pune, if you are just plain parched, dehydrated and thirsty, the first sweet sip itself is deliciously thirst-quenching and cooling.

Then you relish small dollops of creamy delicious vanilla and pineapple ice-creams that adorn the crown. After that you can savor the Mastani as you please, but I like to stir the contents into a creamy mélange and spoon the delicious concoction onto my tongue, roll it in my mouth and savor every drop, rather than hastily suck the liquid via the straw straight into my throat down the hatch. The “Bajirao Mastani” at Gujar Mastani House is pineapple flavored and the small juicy pieces of pineapple at the end leave you with a tangy perked-up feeling. At Sujata Mastani House I prefer the mango and strawberry mastani.

I do not know if you get “Mastani” in Mumbai, or elsewhere. But next time you visit Pune, do enjoy a Mastani. Eat a “Kolhapuri” meal to your heart’s content and set your insides on fire. And then douse the fires with a soothing cool chilled Mastani, or just have a heavenly ice-cold Mastani if you are feeling parched on a hot summer day as a perk me up thirst-quencher and energizer.

And do tell us, dear Fellow Foodie, how and where you enjoyed a Mastani and didn’t you feel refreshed and perked up?

An extract from my yummy Foodie Book APPETITE FOR A STROLL - if you wish to read more such mouthwatering stuff please click the links below:

Set your insides on Fire with a Fiery Kolhapuri Meal, Quench the Fires with Soothing Puneri Mastani and be Merry on a hot summer Pune afternoon.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Hearty Kolhapuri Thali Meal

It is really hot in Pune and this afternoon I had a real "hot" Kolhapuri meal which brought back mouthwatering memories of a similar "hot" meal I had relished two years ago.

Here is a excerpt from my Sulekha Blogprint Series Foodie book APPETITE FOR A STROLL

Purepur Kolhapur

Mouthwatering Memories of a Hearty Kolhapuri Meal


Vikram Karve

It’s a hot Sunday afternoon in Pune. I am voraciously hungry and am pining for a fulfilling meal. And what can be better than a wholesome authentic Kolhapuri meal to blissfully satiate my pangs of hunger?

So I proceed to my favourite Kolhapuri restaurant called “Purepur Kolhapur” near Peru Gate, the food district, in the heart of PuneCity. It’s a Spartan no-nonsense eatery; the only thing conspicuous is the ‘Kolhapur zero-milestone’ outside the entrance which makes it easy to locate.

I saw a similar zero-milestone somewhere in Kothrud the other day and wonder whether a branch of “Purepur Kolhapur” is coming up there too!

There are just three main items on the menu – Mutton Taat (Thali), Chicken Taat, (which cost Rs. 75/- each), and Purepur Special Taat for a princely Rs. 120/- (I am told that the ‘Purepur Special’ contains everything the place has to offer!).

There is a flurry of activity and a large stainless steel taat is placed in front of me almost instantly.

The Purepur Special Thali comprises the following:

· A large bowl of thick chicken curry with four generous pieces of chicken.
· A plate of appetizingly crisp dark brown pieces of fried mutton liberally garnished with almost burnt deep fried onion strips.
· A Kheema Vati (Katori)
· A vati of Tambda Rassa ( Red Gravy)
· A vati of Pandhara Rassa (White Gravy)
· Kuchumber salad made of onions, ginger, coriander, green chillies and curds
· Lemon pieces
· A fresh piping hot chapatti (You can have bhakri if you want, but today I’m in a mood for a crisp hot crunchy chapatti splattered with pure ghee)
· A bowl of jeera rice garnished with crisp brown fried onion strips and cashew nuts.

I sip the pandhara rassa – it’s invigorating.

Next I spoon into my eager mouth a generous portion of mutton fry. It’s not melt-in-the-mouth stuff (I think it is the inimitable Bolai mutton).

I chew slowly and savor the sweetish taste of the fried onions blended with the lively spiciness of the crisply fried mutton.

I dip a piece of the piping hot chapatti into the tambda rassa allowing it to soak in, place it on my tongue and chew it to a pulp until it practically swallows itself savouring the flavour till the very end. Exquisite!

Now using my right thumb and two fingers, I lovingly pick up a small piece of chicken from the gravy; delicately place it on my tongue and roll it against my palate.

I close my eyes, look inside, and focus on the succulent boneless chicken release it’s zesty juices and disintegrate. Yes, unlike the crispy fried mutton which need a vigorous chew to truly relish its deliciousness, the chicken is soft and tender, almost melt-in-the-mouth.

I sample the Kheema Vati – it’s totally different from the Kheema I’ve tasted at Irani and Mughlai eateries. The Kheema has an unusual taste I can’t exactly describe – a bit sweet and sour– a counterbalancing contrast, perhaps.

Now that I’ve sampled everything in it’s pristine form, I squeeze a bit of lemon on the mutton and chicken and embellish it with kuchumber to give it the right tang, and from time to time I sip the wholesome pandhara rassa.

I thoroughly enjoy the confluence of contrasting tastes. In conclusion I mix everything with the rice and rejoice the riot of zesty flavours.

At the end, as I always do after all hearty spicy meals, I pick up a wedge of lemon and squeeze a bit of lemon juice into my glass of water and sip it down.

Believe me, it improves the aftertaste and lightens the post-meal heaviness sometimes caused by spicy Indian cuisine.

It's an exciting, invigorating meal which perks me up and the sheer epicurean pleasure I experience makes up for the crowded, hassled ambience and indifferent service. Purepur Kolhapur is worth a visit for the quality and authenticity of its food.

For most of us “Kolhapuri” food has become synonymous with the “chilli-hot” self-styled, purported, ostensible Kolhapuri fare served in both highfalutin and run-of-the-mill restaurants whose menus often feature dishes called “Chicken Kolhapuri” or “Vegetable Kolhapuri” which masquerade as Kolhapuri cuisine.

Kolhapuri cuisine is “spicy”, not “chilli-hot”, not “rich” and “fatty” – nothing exotic about it.

A Kolhapuri meal, unique in its simplicity, comprises a variety of lip-smacking, earthy, flavorsome, nourishing dishes and is so complete that it creates within you a inimitable hearty wholesome sense of fulfillment, and is a welcome change from the ubiquitous fatty and greasy-rich Makhanwalla, Masala, Kadhai, Handi, Naan, Biryani Punjabi / Mughlai fare you eat day in and day out. There is a world of a difference between pseudo- Kolhapuri and authentic-Kolhapuri food.

I do not know where you get genuine Kolhapuri cuisine in Mumbai, Delhi or any of the Metros. When we visit Kolhapur, we eat at Opal. I walked all over South Mumbai, experimented, tasted, sampled, but there was no joy. No Kolhapuri Taat anywhere, and even a la carte, nowhere was Mutton or Chicken Kolhapuri the signature dish – it appeared they had put it on the menu just for the sake of it, maybe to gratify the dulled taste buds on the alcohol soaked tongues of inebriated patrons who probably were in no state to appreciate the finer aspects of relishing good food. When queried, the waiters invariably said that Kolhapuri was synonymous with fiery chilli-hot food.

I was disappointed to find not even a single authentic Kolhapuri restaurant listed in various Good Food Guides to Mumbai. If you, dear fellow Foodie, know of an authentic Kolhapuri restaurant in your town or city, will you be so good as to let us all know?

Happy Eating!


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

If you want to learn of such yummy places in Mumbai and Pune and read about some really mouthwatering foodie adventures and lip-smacking recipes why don't you get a copy of APPETITE FOR A STROLL?

Just click the links below:

Remember - There is no love greater than the love of food.

Happy Eating

Vikram Karve

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Art of Drinking


[Food for Thought]



One evening a friend of mine landed up at my place and said, “I’ve had a really hard day at work. I need a drink.”

“I’ll get you a cup of tea,” I said.

“Tea…?” he exclaimed astounded, “haven’t you got some whiskey or something…I told you I’m feeling terrible…everything went wrong today…I desperately need a drink…”

“I know you are dying for a drink, craving, yearning, thirsting for that “soothing” sip of alcohol. That’s why you shouldn’t drink now. Never drink when you need a drink,” I said.

My friend pleaded, I didn’t budge, gave him a cup of tea, which he drank with great reluctance, and then he walked off in a huff, calling me all sorts of names, a miser, a “good for nothing” friend, but I knew I had done the right thing.

Don’t drink when you need a drink.

Sounds funny isn’t it?

Let me try to elucidate.

Never drink when you need a drink.

Don’t touch the bottle when you are feeling any negative emotion, for the bottle will “unbottle” and release your pent up negative emotions and make you feel even more miserable and also spoil the mood of all those around you.

Let me tell you something I have observed in real life. If you want to know the true character of a man get him drunk and what is hidden inside him will come out and his true inner self will be revealed.

That’s what alcohol does, isn’t it? Reduces inhibitions, makes you more expansive, expressive, loosens you up, and amplifies releases and brings out your inner emotions, talents, passions, sentiments.

That’s why some persons become more creative after a drink or two – as the music, the poetry, the creativity hidden within you is unleashed – if you are happy inside you start outwardly physically expressing your happiness by laughing, cheer and bonhomie, you may even articulate your secret unexpressed love, become amorous, romantic, try to realize your hidden desires and reveal without compunctions your inner secrets which you otherwise wouldn’t disclose.

But the converse is also true. By reducing inhibitions alcohol may bring out the worst in you and pent up negative emotions like anger, envy, dejection, despondency, frustration may also be unleashed resulting in undesirable consequences. Have you noticed how some people get violent, argumentative, rude or even melancholic, moody, sullen, depressed, unsociable after a few drinks?

Dear Reader, in my opinion, the best thing is not to have a drink at all, but if you must have a drink please do make sure that you are feeling positive, peaceful and happy inside and you don’t desperately “need” that drink.

Never drink when you need a drink.

Do you agree? What is your experience?

Please do comment and give us your views.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.