Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Soul Stirring Food





[Mouth-watering Memories of a Yummy Foodie Date]

Falling in love?

Wondering where to go on that crucial Foodie First Date in Pune?

Try “Soul”.

We had a truly soul stirring evening at Soul on a warm Sunday evening last summer. Let me tell you about it.

It’s easy to get to Soul – just drive down North Main Road in Koregaon Park and turn into ABC Farms to your left, let the valet park your car and walk straight ahead into the lovely ambience of Soul.

The surroundings are green, natural, with trees – wonder why they’ve put a cover over the top of the dining area – dining under the clear night sky is much more pleasurable and romantic.

You may find the place full, like we did, even though we reached as early as eight.

There is a mini golf course to keep you occupied while you wait for your table, or you can sit at the impressive well stocked bar, like I did, sipping deliciously soothing “mocktail” Virgin Pina Colada. I am sure I would have sampled something more potent and exciting from their ample cocktail repertoire in my heyday!

I look around the truly contrasting cosmopolitan crowd – young “table-for-two” lovey-dovey couples having a tender romantic candle-lit dinner, a boisterous group celebrating a birthday, lively friends spiritedly wining and animatedly dining and happy families thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The ambience is wonderfully friendly and relaxing – generous use of wood, wrought iron chairs, candle-lit tables – a rather alluring charming atmosphere in natural verdant surroundings.

Soon we sit comfortably at a table, and as if on cue, the music starts – one of my favourite golden oldies.

I listen with rapt attention, lose myself in the nostalgic music, feel rejuvenated, and as the song ends I realize that my vivacious “date” has already ordered Soul Kebab, Rogan Josh, Chicken Makhani and Naan.

I browse through the tempting Italian delicacies on the menu and look at her in mute supplication, but the lovely young lady sitting opposite me is not moved and closes the issue in her typical peremptory manner “My friend told me that the Soul Kebab and Indian dishes are good here!” Period!

The Soul Kebab is indeed really good – in fact it is superb – a really creative innovation I’ve not had anywhere else – a spicy Mutton Seekh Kebab encased in delicious breast of chicken wrap. I wish they’d serve a more generous plateful as the small pieces of Kebab dunked in the tangy green chutney vanish in a jiffy.

The Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken [Chicken Makhani] and Naan arrive.

“Rogan Josh must always be eaten with rice!” I affirm to my foodie companion.

She looks at me curiously, and orders steamed rice, and while it arrives, I dig into the Butter Chicken.

The Butter Chicken looks good and tastes good.

This preparation is in the same league as the celebrated Butter Chicken I’ve relished at the famous original Moti Mahal of Daryaganj and at Gaylord in Churchgate.

The soft Naan drenched in the lip-smacking creamy gravy scintillates my taste buds.

She wants a Roomali Roti. “Sorry,” says the waiter, “No Roomali Roti, only Roti and Naan, there is a shortage of staff.”

She frowns in disbelief. A pity! A real pity for a posh restaurant; but at least they are honest about it!

I look at the Rogan Josh. I am disappointed. It doesn’t look like Rogan Josh, so I ask the waiter whether he’s brought Mutton Masala or some other mutton curry dish instead, maybe, owing to shortage of staff, but he confirms that the thick greenish brown gravy with rather muddy coloured chunks of meat is indeed “Rogan Josh”.

Authentic Rogan Josh is the most visually appealing, passionately tempting and appetizing dish which makes your mouth water and entices you to eat it. I feel it is vital that food must look good, for we “eat” our food twice – first we eat with our eyes, then with our tongues.

I taste the gravy – yes, distinctive taste of pure ghee is clearly discernible and this locally improvised version of Rogan Josh seems quite tasty, the mutton is well cooked and succulent, a decent passable mutton dish, certainly not superb.

We eat our meal slowly, enjoying the delightful music.

It is “open mike” night and spontaneous spur-of-the-moment singers from the diners, egged on by active participation from one and all, enliven, and almost electrify, the atmosphere.

It’s good, real good, a truly unforgettable soul-stirring dining experience.

Wish we could have enjoyed the exhilarating environment much longer, but there are people waiting for a table, and the dessert menu hasn’t much to offer, so off we go to our favourite place for a late night dessert.

I’m glad we visited Soul.

It’s good, real good; we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, good reasonably priced food, invigorating music, breathtaking ambience, a truly unforgettable soul-stirring dining experience.

Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL:

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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Clean Well Lighted Place - Cafe Good Luck

A Clean Well Lighted Place - Cafe Good Luck



I believe in the dictum – ‘When hungry, eat; and when tired, sleep’.

I spent entire the Sunday browsing books at the library and bookstores loosing all sense of time, and at five thirty in the evening I found myself ravenously hungry, standing on Fergusson College Road in Pune.

At this odd hour, it was too early for “dinner”, and the only “snack” I could think of in the vicinity which would satiate my rapacious pangs of hunger was “Mutton Cutlet Curry” at Good Luck Café nearby at the crossing with Bhandarkar Road.

During my younger days, when Pune was Poona, I used to frequent three eateries in the Deccan area – Good Luck, Lucky and the Poona Coffee House.

Now Lucky and Poona Coffee House have disappeared and only the good old Good Luck is going strong. You can savor a variety of delectable stuff at Good Luck – ranging from Bun Maska-Chai to Biryani – but today I ordered what I consider the signature dish of Good Luck, my favorite “Mutton Cutlet Curry”.

Soon, there was placed in front of me a huge crisp-hot heart shaped mouthwatering mutton cutlet floating in a bowl of rich scrumptious gravy. In the side dish, I seasoned the onion wedges with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime, ordered slices of freshly baked soft fluffy bread, and got ready for the eat.

First a small piece of the substantial cutlet – it was heavenly – delicious wholesome fare made up of yummy mutton kheema cooked in plenty of spices dunked in egg and deep fried till crisp and crunchy. I did not bite; that would destroy everything. I let the piping hot piece of cutlet tingle my tongue a bit, and spooned in a generous dollop of the thick opulent curry.

My mouth was on fire – literally and figuratively, with heat and spice – and instinctively I popped in a piece of the soft soothing bread and pressed my tongue against my palate and let everything disintegrate and melt in my mouth, followed by a zesty piece of well seasoned onion to liven up things further with its sharp biting flavor and enhance the intense eating experience. It was sumptuous.

Now it was time to use my fingers, copiously drench a piece of bread in the gravy, clutch in a piece of the cutlet and let the delicious stuff melt in my mouth; with a piece of the peppery onion from time to time to keep the sizzle lively.

And once I was fully satiated, what better way to give a befitting end to the fiery repast than a delicious cup of nourishing Irani Tea!

Sheer bliss; non-alcoholic intoxication at its best!

Café Good Luck is a decent Value For Money eatery you must visit whenever go to Pune next and are around Deccan.

Relish the Biryani, the kheema, the mutton and chicken dishes, (if you’re adventurous try the new jungli tawa stuff), the puddings, the bun-maska, or maybe just a cup of tea. But don’t forget to enjoy the Mutton Cutlet Curry!

If you are a Foodie and want to discover more such yummy places, especially in Pune and Mumbai why don't you get a copy of my book APPETITE FOR A STROLL - a treatise on The Art of Eating, Simple Recipes and Foodie Adventures in Pune and Mumbai.

Click the links below to know more about this delicious book:

Happy Eating


Wednesday, May 06, 2009


MARZORIN – The Sandwiches, Rolls and Cold Coffee Place



Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, in the 1960s and 1970s, and maybe even in the 1980s, was indeed a “paradise”. Its salubrious climate, affable culture, relaxed ambience and delicious cuisine made it the best city to live in – oh yes, Pune was indeed a Foodie’s delight!

One of our most enjoyable highlights was the occasional visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by a leisurely stroll on Main Street [MG Road] and East Street, window-shopping, “bird-watching” and snacking, maybe a browse at Manney’s.

During those young hungry days we used to frequent three value-for-money eateries on Main Street [MG Road] in Pune.

Greenfields for a nourishing fulfilling satiating continental Breakfast, Mona Food for finger licking zesty Chana Bhatura, Marz-o-rin for delicious Rolls, Sandwiches and Cold Coffee, and Naaz for delectable non-veg samosas and stimulating Irani tea. And, of course, for a hearty Chinese meal the peerless Kamling [now replaced by Mayur Veg Thali] or Chung Fa, for a Mughlai repast it was Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, maybe even Blue Nile, some distance away, or Sizzlers at The Place [arguably the first Sizzler Place in India] next to Manney’s. Not to forget the Meetha Masala Pan at George to carry lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.

Of our four favourite snacking places, Greenfields has disappeared leaving no trace, Naaz has transformed into a Barista, Mona Food is no longer the simple, unpretentious, no-nonsense value-for-money eatery it once was, but luckily, Marz-o-rin still retains its original friendly character and top quality food served with the same old world charm.

The signature dish of Marz-o-rin is the Chicken Roll. Appetizingly delectable, the fresh soft creamy mellifluous roll with its scrumptious filling is indeed peerless and matchless.

I have tasted Chicken Rolls all over but there is nothing to beat the soft luscious roll served by Marz-o-rin. Generous boneless pieces of delicious chicken, the lip-smacking mayonnaise, and the soft mellifluous roll harmoniously integrated into a yummy treat. I love it.

If you are a vegetarian, try the slightly tangy tomato and green chutney vegetable sandwiches.

And don’t forget to wash the rolls and sandwiches down with soothing cold coffee.

Well that's what we old fogies always did in the good old days and still do whenever we visit Marz-o-rin.

Now-a-days there are many more delightful options, and comfortable seating upstairs and friendly atmosphere in the balcony where you can sit and observe the goings on below on Main Street while enjoying your snack.

I like the hot bakes, especially the Bean Bake Chicken or Cheese, Macaroni, and Spaghetti with the zesty sauces.

And, of course, there are all kinds of excellent Burgers, Rolls and Sandwiches, including whole wheat versions for the health-conscious foodies.

"Health-conscious Foodie" - now that's a nice oxymoron, isn’t it?

The chillers are exciting too Kool-Blue or Green Apple on a hot and sultry afternoon. And there a variety of juices, shakes, and ice creams to choose from.

You can try what you want, everything is appetizing and tasty, but remember, in Marz-o-rin you must relish the Chicken Rolls, Vegetable Sandwiches and Cold Coffee, for old times’ sake, for these still remain the “signature dishes” of Marzorin.

You’ll love hanging out and snacking at Marzorin. Enjoy the ambience, the friendly vibes, savour the delicious food, and remember to take a yummy parcel for the folks at home!

Happy Eating