Celebrating the Harvest season at Tiqri, Taj Santacruz

In a country like India, festivals are synonymous to food. If a family is celebrating a big day, a grand feast is sure to follow. So if your loved ones are Bengali or Punjabi, you’re most certainly in for a treat this weekend. And if not, don’t worry! You can still enjoy their traditional fare – courtesy Taj Hotels.

Offering an amalgam of flavorsome recipes, Taj city hotels are hosting a special food festival with lip-smacking delicacies from West Bengal and Punjab on the occasion of Poila Baisakh and Baisakhi. So when I was invited to Tiqri, Taj Santacruz‘ all-day dining restaurant, I was delighted beyond words. Thanks to Chef Dinesh and his hospitable team, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

A special a-la-carte menu offering a variety of Bengali and Punjabi dishes has been created for this week. Since we were there for a tasting, we got to sample a little bit of all the dishes.

We began the revelries of Nobo Borsho with:
– A chilled and soothing glass of Bengali style Aamrus that was similar to Aam panna
– Kasha Posto Bora served with Chole Dhonepatar Bhate – Poppy seed cakes with chickpea and cilantro mash went perfectly well with each other
– Egg roll – One can never really go wrong with Kolkata’s famous street food speciality
– Chicken Rezale – chunks of chicken were dunked in a rich, aromatic white gravy made with subtle spices
– Potol Posto – pointed gourd in poppy seed based gravy was a different take to the usual gourd masala made at home. Also, this dish is best enjoyed in the months of summer, as pointed gourd is a summer vegetable in India
– Doi Fulkopi – Bengali style cauliflower made with spicy yogurt curry was a simple, classic dish, full of flavor and less spicy
– Bhaja Muger Dal – Lost my heart to the special aroma of dry roasted moong dal and dollops of ghee, making this sumptuous Bengali specialty dal my favorite for the night
– Luchi – Deep-fried puffed bread, best enjoyed with various gravies
– Nolen Gurer Mousse – Date palm jaggery mousse garnished with strawberries was smooth, light and well-balanced.

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Aamrus

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Poppy seed cakes & egg wrap

While our Bengali fare consisted of all the above, our Baisakhi feast was also an extravagant one:
– Dry fruit lassi – Sweetened lassi enhanced with dry fruits and saffron was indulgently rich, creamy and delicious
– Sarso Murgh Tikka – We all know how famous the North is for all its delectable mustard infused preparations. This tandoor grilled chicken was no different
– Tandoori Haryali Aloo – Marinated with fresh garden leaves, these baby potatoes were flavorful and pleasing
– Mutton Saagwala – A typical North Indian version of lamb and spinach based curry, this dish was rich and bursting with flavors
– Pindi Chana – If you’re enjoying a North Indian meal, you know that Rawalpindi inspired chana will always be a winner
– Dum wale Rajma Chawal – Rajma Chawal, dum cooked for several hours and then served like a biryani made this aromatic dish oh-so-comforting!
– Mutton Biryani – This amazingly tasty preparation consisting of mutton chunks and rice was dum cooked with spices making it irresistible
– Laccha Paratha – flaky Indian flat bread served with the gravies
– Makhana Kheer – Lotus seed in sweetened and reduced flavoured milk. Small pieces of makhanas just added a twist to the humble rabdi.

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Dry fruit lassi

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Dum Rajma Chawal

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Top (l-r): Mutton Saagwalla, Pindi Channa… Bottom (l-r): Cauliflower, Chicken Stew & Dal

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Nulen Gurer Mouuse & Makhana Kheer

After eating so much, we were obviously stuffed but more than the food, we were brimming with all the love and care that was showered upon us by the kind and hospitable team at Tiqri.

FYI:

While West Bengal and Punjab are all set to celebrate today, Mumbai is geared up to usher in the harvest season with great pomp at Masala KraftThe Taj Mahal Palace, Tiqri – Taj Santacruz and Masala BayTaj Lands End from 14th to 23rd April, 2017. While the latter will only be serving traditional Punjabi delicacies, one can make the most of Bengali and Punjabi specialties at the other two city hotels. If you want to get a true feel of the festivities in West Bengal & Punjab, don’t miss out on this food fest.

Taste of Thailand in Mumbai

Thai cuisine, one of the most popular cuisines in the world influenced by Chinese and Indian foods, is unique and has a distinct flavor of its own. With strong aromatic components, Thai food is a wonderful amalgamation of five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. But don’t worry! You don’t need to travel all the way to Thailand to experience its national cuisine – simply head to Sofitel Mumbai BKC before 5th June, 2016!

The bustling BKC property is hosting ‘Tastes of Thailand,’ a ten-day long Thai festival in association with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and SO Sofitel Bangkok. Mumbaikars can revel in an array of authentic and sumptuous Thai cuisine prepared by Chefs Chitsanuphat Dungjampa and Chalermchai Tavornaroonrat from the Bangkok property, who have specially flown in to provide a true taste of their homeland. Indulge in an eclectic mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes complemented by a range of exotic spices and fresh herbs. An innovative menu has specially been crafted by these talented chefs featuring Thai speciality dishes.

Chefs Chitsanuphat Dungjampa, Manavl Koul and Chalermchai Tavornaroonrat

Chefs behind this festival

I attended the launch of the festival on 27th May, 2016 in the esteemed company of Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, General Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC and Ms. Sirin Surathin- Deputy Consul General. Our evening started with a traditional Thai dance performance that took place in the lobby – the grace and grandeur of which set the perfect tone for the meal ahead!

Cultural Performan at the inaugral ceremony of 'Tastes of Thailand' at Sofitel Mumbai BKC (2)

Traditional Thai dance performance

Soon after, we made our way to Pondicherry Cafe, the hotel’s lively coffee shop that’s playing host to the festival. The regular buffet spread did grab our eyeballs for a few minutes until we reached the Thai section. The salad counter featured the likes of Yum Woon Sen (Glass Noodle Salad), Som Tam (Spicy Papaya Salad) and lots more. The latter was being prepared on the spot with chilli, garlic and tomatoes and was a sight to see. It surely hit all the right notes with its flavors and spices. The main course consisted of Gai Phad Kra Prao (Basil Chicken), Pla Nueng Manao (Steamed fish with a raw garlic, lime and chili sauce), Phad Thai Goong (Shrimp Phad Thai Noodles), Gang Phed Ped Yang (Roasted Duck Curry) among others. Out of everything I tried, I loved Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Prawn Soup), Gang Kiew Wan Puck (Green Thai Curry), Chu Chee Pla (Fish with Red Curry Sauce).

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Menu

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Shrimp sesame toast

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Som Tam (Spicy papaya salad)

Chu Chee Pla (Fish with Red Curry Sauce)

Chu Chee Pla (Fish with red curry sauce)

Known for its lavish dessert spread, the counter had endless varieties ranging from ice creams to chocolate-based desserts to Thai-inspired desserts and more. Though its hard to pick what I liked most (considering I’m a dessert person), the refreshing coconut based Woon Ma Prao Orn (Young coconut jelly), Sticky Rice with Black Bean in Coconut Milk, Banana in Coconut Milk, White Chocolate Brownie and the Himalayan Honeycomb were unique and worth trying.

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White chocolate brownie

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Brownie with banana, caramel, green apple & Himalayan honeycomb

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience with impeccable hospitality, superb service, great food and entertainment.

Venue: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Date: 27th May to 5th June, 2016
Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards
Price: Lunch and Dinner – INR 3,100 (plus taxes)
For table reservations, please call +91 (22) 6117 5115

*The meal was paid for by Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Merlion In Mumbai at JW Marriott Juhu’s Lotus Cafe

Singapore is a paradise for food lovers. From high-end restaurants to street food stalls, there are ample options to pick from. When dining out, most people prefer hawker centres as they are convenient, affordable and delicious. A trip to the island is surely incomplete without trying out some of its authentic dishes served at its numerous street stalls.

I was fortunate to get a taste of Singaporean street food at JW Marriott Juhu, Mumbai’s Singapore Food Festival at its bustling Lotus Cafe. Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran specially flew down to Mumbai to showcase his exceptional culinary skills with his signature preparations and street food favorites. Upon being asked about Singaporean cuisine, he said, ‘Singaporean cuisine is truly a melting pot of Asian cultural cuisine and in a sense, can be called truly International. An amalgamation of Chinese, Thai, Malay, Indian and many more cuisines, Singaporean dishes incorporate fresh spices that lends the quintessential flavor to the dishes. It is a cuisine that is enjoyed by most, since it has a flavor for every palate.’

With Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Chef Thanabalan Chandrasekaran

The delectable dinner buffet comprised of classic dishes like Singapore’s famous Chilli Crab, Laksa, Gado-Gado Molek and more. With aromatic satays, braised ducks, flavorsome curries and live stations, we were spoilt for choice.

‘Singaporean cuisine is a non-fussy, hassle-free cuisine. The main ingredients required to prepare most dishes are chilli, pandan leaf, lemongrass, coconut and sea food,’ he further added. While we were being briefed about the festival, Chef Himanshu Taneja, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Juhu also informed us that the menu changes everyday so guests have more to look forward to.

Lotus Cafe, famous for its delectable buffet and Sunday brunch was decorated with red lanterns, candles and umbrellas that gave us a feel of Singapore. Chef walked us through the live counters and satay stations and gave us some valuable insights on each of the dishes that were on offer. Some of his signature dishes like the Chicken Curry with Spicy Red Gravy was made using a recipe given to him by his mother.

The satays included Chicken, Lamb and Prawns and were a real treat for meat lovers. Slow Cooked Duck with Potatoes in Soya Sauce, Slow Roasted Stuffed Duck, Jasmine Rice were some delicious options in the curry section that everyone just couldn’t stop raving about. The salads included Onion Coriander and Baby Dry Shrimp, Prawns with Pineapple & Tomatoes, Gado-Gado Molek which also happens to be a signature Singaporean salad. At the live counter, Chef Thanabalan himself tossed an assortment of vegetables and meats with stir-fry noodles and soya sauce to make the experience even more special. If you’re at a Singapore Food Festival, you have to try the famous street food speciality – Laksa. If you like the flavour of shrimp, this soupy dish is an absolute delight to slurp down. Black Pepper Prawns, Hot and Sour Pomfret, Mix Vegetables with Coconut Cream were some more creations at the buffet.

Since Chef knew his flavors so well and promised to offer a different spread each day, I was curious to know about his favorites. So I asked him for five dishes he recommends everyone must try to get a feel of Singaporean street food. Here’s what he said –

– Laksa: 
A soupy dish consisting of flat rice noodles or vermicelli dunked in spicy coconut milk flavored with dried shrimp and sambal chilli and topped with prawns, chicken or boiled eggs. Vegetarian version can be made sans shrimp with bean curd and sprouts.

– Chilli Crab: 
Singapore’s national dish, Chilli Crab is a stir-fried preparation in a sweet and savoury chilli based sauce.

– Chicken Rice:
Fuss-free chicken rice made with sesame oil, ginger, garlic and soya sauce, this is one of the most famous street foods available in Singapore.

– Rojak Salad: 
A sweet, spicy & sour fruit and vegetable salad, Rojak is a popular street food in Singapore that can be made with prawn fritters, bean sprouts, potatoes and eggs.

– Okane Fried Noodles: 
This is mainly served as a vegetarian dish and is made with stir-fried rice vermicelli seasoned with curry powder, bean sprouts, pak choi, soy sauce, and sliced chilli peppers. Can also be accompanied by small slices of chicken, beef, pork or prawns.

If you want to get a real taste of Singaporean street food with authentic flavors, this festival offers endless options that are sure to leave you craving for more.

Decor

Chilli Crab

Satay Station

Satay Counter

Salad Station

Curries & Rice

Live station

Stir-fry Vegetables & Noodles in a local sauce

Laksa in the making

Laksa being prepared by Chef Thanabalan

Laksa

Some more dishes

Pricing:
INR 2400/- per head (all inclusive)

Timing:
7:00 pm-11:00 pm

* The meal was paid for by JW Marriott Juhu

Foodie Reviews: South Indian Breakfast at Sofitel BKC

Tuskers, voted as India’s best vegetarian restaurant by The Times Food Guide at Sofitel Mumbai BKC offers a South Indian treat, every weekend with the launch of its South Indian Breakfast Buffet. Guests can savour dishes from Kerala and Tamil Nadu especially prepared by Chef E. Munichandrudu. The spread includes scrumptious dishes like dosas, vadas, paniyaram, sevai coconut upma and more.

Dosa lovers can pick from options like Sada, Masala, Mysore, Spinach, Beetroot to name a few. A special Chocolate Dosa is also available for children on request. Health enthusiasts can opt for Oats Bisibela Bath, Ragi Uttapam, Carrot Dosa among other options. With live cooking stations and unique flavours, Chef Muni crafts wonders to each table.

What I tried:
– Cutting Coffee
– Idli & Vada with different kinds of chutneys and sambar
– Tomato Uttapam
– Kolakotai (Steamed masala rice dumpling)
– Ragi Idiyappam (Ragi flour steamed cake)
– Rawa Upma (Semolina cooked with mustard seeds and curry leaves)
– Ven Pongal (Rice cooked with lentil and ghee)
– Citrannum (Rice tossed with lemon juice and spice)
– Rawa Kesari (Semolina cooked with sugar)

What impressed me:
– Every dish was served fresh and hot and was delicious
– With an immense knowledge of South Indian cuisine, Chef Muni will be introducing guests to almost 46 different items with this buffet that will include approximately 18-22 different varieties of chutneys, all of which will be available on a rotational basis
– Since the menu changes every week, there’s always something new to look forward to
– The food is simple – like home-style food and enjoyable

Cutting Coffee

Idlis and Vadas with different kinds of chutneys and sambar

Sada Dosa

Tomato Uttapam

Tasting of the other dishes

South Indian Breakfast Buffet

South Indian Breakfast Buffet

Tea & Coffee

Rating:
5/5

Address:
C 57, Block G,
Bandra East,
Mumbai – 400051.

Timing:
7am to 11am

Priced at INR 711/- plus taxes, the buffet is available every Saturday & Sunday only.

*The meal was paid for by Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Foodie Reviews: Citrus, The Leela

Citrus at The Leela Mumbai is the hotel’s 24-hour restaurant situated at the lobby level, known for its exotic buffet, Sunday brunch and it’s exquisite Japanese counter. It is undoubtedly the ideal spot for a lazy breakfast, cozy brunch or a relaxed dinner.

As you enter Citrus, beautiful, pink cherry blossoms to your right ensure you do not give the Japanese counter amiss. The Leela Mumbai wanted to offer patrons an authentic Japanese experience in Mumbai and hence the Japanese counter was introduced last year in September. In a short span of seven months, this dedicated quintessential Japanese counter has grown many folds and is now also available at other outlets such as the Cosmopolitan Bar – Six Degrees and The Lobby Lounge. Apart from that, it’s menu offerings also features in the room service menu for in-house guests.

According to Chef Surrender Mohan, Corporate Chef – Indian Cuisine, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, ‘Mumbai has a lot of Japanese expatriats living and working here and these numbers are growing.  A lot of them dine here at The Leela and we have a lot of resident Japanese guests staying with us throughout the year.  The growing demand from our guests for Japanese cuisine led us to setting up a Japanese counter at Citrus.  Our Indian clientele who stay and dine with us are very well traveled – they enjoy global flavours and cuisines and appreciate our offering of Japanese as well.  Our dishes are prepared with authentic Japanese ingredients especially flown in from Japan and our guests enjoy our simple but authentic menu.’

The Leela Mumbai was kind enough to invite me for a meal at Citrus as they are currently celebrating Japan’s popular Cherry Blossom Festival. I had the option to choose the Bento Box, specially introduced for this month or to randomly order for dishes from the menu. Being a fan of Japanese cuisine, I requested the chef to serve me a few of his signature dishes.

I tried:
– Crispy Onion Salad with Avocados
– Shira-ae
– Miso Shiru
– Hamachi Carpaccio
– Chili Crab and Salmon Sushi
– Dragon Roll

‘Shoyu or Soy sauce and other soybean products are staples in Japan and are among the most common ingredients used in their cooking. Soy sauce is a flavor enhancer much like salt. As an experiment, you can replace the salt you normally use at home with a swirl of Soy sauce – you will realize the importance of its usage  in Japanese food,’ Chef Mohan said upon being asked about the most common ingredient used in Japanese food.

What impressed me:
– Crispy Onion Salad with Avocados was light, fresh, flavorsome and ofcourse, crispy
– For all those of you who don’t know what Shira-ae actually is, it is basically a tofu salad. The ingredients used to create this delectable dish are: Atari goma (sesame paste), Usukuchi (soy sauce), Rice vinegar, Tofu, Sesame seeds, Edamame,  Zucchini Rayu (Chili oil) and sugar. Chef was extremely kind to prepare a mini portion especially for me. When my dish arrived, it was like an explosion of colors, textures and flavors. It tasted as awesome as it looked. Not every restaurant that serves Japanese gets this dish right
– The Miso Shiru was served warm in a small cup and was extremely refreshing. It was smooth and mellow and had the real miso flavor. The small tofu chunks added to the flavor making it extremely delicious yet light
– Hamachi (‘yellowtail’) Carpaccio melted in the mouth
– Chili Crab and Salmon Sushi was fresh and delightful. Being a fan of sushi, I must admit that this one was definitely one of the best options the city has to offer
– Dragon Roll had a crunchy texture. Place a piece of ginger and some wasabi over it and you’ll never want it to end

Over all, I had a brilliant experience and would totally recommend this place to anybody who loves Japanese cuisine.

Rating:
5/5

Crispy Onion Salad with Avocados

Shira-ae

Miso Shiru

Hamachi Carpaccio

Chilli Crab and Salmon Sushi

Dragon Rolls

Address:
Citrus, The Leela Hotel,
Andheri Kurla Road,
Sahar,
Andheri East,
Mumbai.

Culinary Collaboration Week

Conveniently located at Mumbai’s swanky One Indiabulls Centre in Lower Parel, The White Owl is a popular brewery-bistro, known for its eclectic selection of freshly brewed, craft beers and European cuisine.

Their Culinary Collaboration project, that began last year, aspires to collaborate with renowned personalities from different walks of life to create a special menu, available all day, for a limited period of time.

This time around, Breakfast Projekt.com and The White Owl have come together in an exciting culinary collaboration for beer and food enthusiasts. Indulge in freshly brewed beers over a perfect selection of dishes, handpicked by the exceptional food writer, blogger and home chef, Pratishtha Khan, Founder of Breakfast Projekt, a platform where she shares her love for food, travel, fashion and real life experiences along with Chef Dinesh Bharwani, Executive Chef, The White Owl. This special menu includes Chef Dinesh’s mouth-watering creations curated by Pratishtha’s expertise in food. It features an assortment of dishes from starters to entrees and desserts.

Pratishtha Khan, Founder of Breakfast Projekt

Verdure flatbread with rucola, basil pesto and fresh strawberry & arugula salad, char-grilled peri peri chicken with creamy polenta and sautéed mushroom & leek risotto are some of the lip-smacking items on the menu.

Verdure Flatbread at The White Owl

Sautéed Mushroom & Leek Risotto

Caramelized Banana Toffee Tart

This menu is only available until 18th March, 2015 and can be ordered on an A La Carte and as a fixed Three-Course Dining Menu.

Address:
One Indiabulls Center, Tower 2 Lobby, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.

Price:
Three-Course Menu without alcohol: INR 995/- plus taxes
Three-Course Menu with Three House Brews or Three House Sangrias: INR 1,795/- plus taxes

Available until 18th March, 2015 only.