You want a Maserati?…you better work,work!!

Yes I work. I blog. I ride. I travel. Not to be confused with one another. And, on days like these, I’m in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city for yet another client meeting. It’s funny, how at societal do’s, folk greet and raise the age old question, ‘You blog for a living? While a part of me would like to say, ‘Yes! If only it were that easy’- I would. However, the love for showcasing travel continues and will always continue to do so. 

So yes, I find myself at the broad end of the spectrum in the midst of Ghatkopar for a client meeting. I was put up at The ROA– a three star business property close to the Metro line (which I took and loved every minute of it) on the way here. I am told it means ‘The King’ in Greek. So here is hoping for the Royal treatment at play. 

I love Mumbai. I start my journey in an airport chauffeur driven Range Rover Sport and in the blink of an eye commute with the common man mode of transport, all on the very same day. It’s enriching and grounding. A city that has something for everyone. 

The Executive Room    Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

A business hotel has a different mindset and yearning for a customer who wants the basics with a touch of panache. After all the target audience is demanding in a different sort of way. The room is spacious, the staff friendly and over accommodating, the room service tight and my personal pet peeve- the bathroom is a dream. What’s more I am guided to a series of instructions on my way to the room as well as given the most important amenity for my stay here- an unlimited supply of fiber optic high speed,Wi-fi. 

I check in. I power nap in time for lunch and mr. NObody, ever so curious, glances through the menu. The restaurant is bustling due to a wedding party to cater too. I use this opportunity to order in. The room service is prompt and the food scrumptious. A vegetarian and non vegetarian starter is suggested. The Day & Knight Kofta (the image at the beginning of the article) is well presented and quite artsy in approach. And the servings are plenty. Easily serves two. It is a must try. 

I am requested to try the Murgh Malai seekh- I am apprehensive at first considering this dish has fallen flat on many counts from established cuisine oriented standalones to star properties- my experiences of course. I am urged to the extent of having it made complimentary if not to my satisfaction. I love it when Chefs are so confident, especially when they know their craft.
One morsel and I am in seventh heaven. Succulent, fresh and how!! It was a perfect blend of texture and spice with the viscosity of a creamy malai. 
I later find out the owners are known for their love of food- the Ghuraa’s and carefully monitor their menu on a daily basis. Kudos!! 

 Murgh Malai Seekh Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

I top off my well balanced meal (vegetarian & non vegetarian) with a Warm Chocolate Brownie-in its rudimentary form. It’s a hot selling favourite and I am lucky to have the last one for the moment before the next batch is baked. Flavaa- is their inhouse restaurant and gets a lot of walk-ins for their coffee and brownies from the local folk around. It’s very art decor and subtle. And now I know why. Thank you Chef for the well recommended meals. 

All in all a restful and productive stay. Off to my meeting in a bit. 

As Britney put it – ‘You want a Maserati…you better work work.‘ 


All images are shot on an Iphone6. 

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And then there was ‘Light’

This is going to be a pictorial representation for the primary purpose of ‘art’. After all, art, is interpretive and can never be solely explained. Whilst the dishes do the talking, I shall parallel echo my sentiments of a night at Ziya at the Oberoi Mumbai. Persian for ‘splendour & light’ and the labor of love from thrice Michelin star Chef Vineet Bhatia this restaurant is tastefully clad in its statement for understated regality. 

This being my second meal at the hands of a Michelin chef and being quite the avid follower of a few starred restaurants, I arrive early. After all, it only takes a few months to procure a reservation at these establishments when abroad and,I ,suffer from being German about time. The restaurant is being set for the big culinary ‘Jugalbandi’ night ahead. Prep and checks are being made between the Chef & Manpreet Kaur Dhody- the commandeer restaurant-in-charge for the evening. Everything has to be perfect. I’be been told it’s a one sitting affair (just the way chef wanted it).  

Rested in plush opulence with Chef Vineet’s book in hand, the dominant color of the evening is clearly ‘Gold’. I felt under dressed however my Iphone6 was at ease in the surroundings,playing its part all decked up in its gold case. Attention to detail is at its minutest best. From the 24 karat gold plated cutlery, (a limited placed order from the crockery house in Italy – Industria Vetraria Valdarnese Italyin of only 200 sets) to the ceilings adorned with 24 karat leaf gold paper there is a pattern at play. 

Attention to details has mr. NObody be a ‘somebody’ that evening. 

I am engrossed in the book, till the time I am ushered to meet the man himself, Chef Vineet- a gentle and unassuming culinary extraordinaire. His kind eyes and gentle smile put me at ease instantaneously thus avoiding any faux pas, I was about to commit. A brief discussion has him explain his humble beginnings and awe inspiring story of how he started out peeling 200 potatoes in this very kitchen many moons ago, only to head the same restaurant today. Humility and simplicity at its best. 

I was explained that tonight’s Jugalbandi was at the hands of Chef Adriano Baldassarre, Chef Rubén Santos and himself with a confluence of Indian, Japanese and Italian flavors over a 5 course menu. 

 24 karat gold plated cutlery (200 piece limited set) 

I am escorted to my table and requested at my own pace to inform my attendant as and when ready to begin. I try to hold back my glee and over enthusiasm and gently whisper ‘please begin‘ in the most monotone baroque voice possible. Pulled that off rather well, might I add.

Each plating had a story to tell. It was well explained and to the point. The San Danielle ham and Parmesan maki with a roll of saffron khichdi and sweet shitake was something I would relate to an extra marital affair (not that I would know off first hand, hearsay at best). Two pieces of sinful delight each captivating my senses over the other. The Good wife vs the provocative mistress and before ones knows it, the affair consumes you onto the next course.  

San Danielle ham & Parmesan maki

It is the season for porcini mushrooms in Italy all this month. And yes, I know a few Italians who are anal in their consumption of the freshest produce and dining with them have learnt to expect the same. It’s simple,wholesome living yet plentiful as to how structured they are in their eating habits. 

The Miso porcini soup hit the spot. The pairing of the crunchy shrimp fritters over sun dried tomato chutney, struck a perfectly poised balance between the two. My use of the gold cutlery for the first time did have an awkward geek moment wherein I wrestled with the thought of taking a selfie, luckily the deer in headlight stare from my observant server had me compose myself at the awkward immediate last second. Missed my selfie-Darnnit!!!

Miso Porcini soup 
 

The next course was a delicate Chilli & Burnt garlic Chilean Seabass. Accompanied with a dust of carbon mash (yes you heard right carbon!!), zucchini scapesce and black bean sauce this was a treat to the senses being paired with the 2002 Chateau Margaux. You do not want to know the price of a bottle- (hint; it runs into the six figure range INR). 

What is amazing and refreshing is the art on display at the table in perfectly sized portions. Not too little not too much. Each dish presents itself with a story that arrests me. To others, on several occasions I might have looked like a gawking Buffon, as I marvel and reveal in these painstakingly handcrafted pieces- a part of me not wishing to consume it and bid it farewell but another craving to devour it the minute it arrives. Due respect must be adhered too merely as protocol. We shall let Mr Hyde slumber for now. 

Chilli & Burnt garlic Chilean seabass 

After a refreshing ginger sorbet to cleanse the palate with some fine Moet poured over it, I took a few minutes to digest and read the crafted menu more elaborately. And the last line arrested me. ‘Close your eyes and explore a myriad of sensory dimensions’. Indeed. 

However I had to move along to the next course. The Curry leaf and crusted lamb loin with spaghetti puttanesca, sesame wasabi pak choy steamed white asparagus. 

By the time, I was playing Sherlock trying to deduce associating the dishes to the personalities of the chefs inside. On a wild note, I’ve been chased down the streets of Rome for the misunderstanding of the word ‘putta‘ so I find it hilariously funny when spoken about spaghetti that way. 

Curry leaf and crusted lamb loin   

I have taken the liberty to articulate this last piece of culinary art as the Art Platter. Though the name is as simplistic as the concept behind it Chef Vineet calls it the Matcha- rasmalai cheesecake, Coconut panna cotta, Matcha chocolate truffle and black sesame Kulfi. I just stared and then some upon its presentation, and wondered how Chef managed to get a rasmalai in between a cheesecake!?! 

Simple, yet awe inspiring and brilliantly executed. Perfect and moist right down the centre. The chocolate truffle was a loaded cannon with the explosion hitting all the sensory spots. And the cute puzzle moulds of Panna cotta and kulfi were a playful delight. 

Art platter  

Indeed an enlightening affair. Thank you Chef’s and the entire team. 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography Shot on IPhone 6 

Mr.Worldwide

If your wondering about the title- as much as I would like to be Mr. Worldwide aka Pitbull, I still am mr. NObody the last time I checked. Here’s a candid confession about the beauty and art of eating a buffet (learnt the hard way of course) You are spoilt for choice and neglect is never an option. But in these days,of counted calories and busting seam lines, one has to be extra careful and selective in this ‘art of choice’- yours truly for sure. In my constant struggle and strife of keeping the calorie count in check, with an excessive workout regiment, I was invited with a few Mumbai foodies to Hornby’s Pavilion at the ITC Grand Central -Lower Parel for their Kitchens of the World Series. This time around it was Street food focused with many exotic preparations in store. 

Having travelled extensively it was a delight to hop around a multitude of signature cuisines at the comfort of ones own chair, being not too far away on display at the buffet counter. Some of these dishes have had me travel far and wide to witness and sample. If I had to spotlight a quick culinary trail, let me start straight at home with the India section hitting all the right spots. From the Nalli Nihari to the Dum mutton Biryani the ITC Hotels can do no wrong, this being the fourth time in a span of a decade I have bared witness too. It’s spot on! Sweet sorrowful parting of tender meat chunks falling off the bone with a mere fork nudge in symphonic harmony. The Galauti kebabs and mushroom adaptation were sinfully exotic and perfect in texture. 

Nalli Nihari  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Heading to the chaat section which always has a soft spot in my heart were the Agra ka chaat and Aloo Tikki both which stole the show with much aplomb. Taking off to Singapore, was the Rojak salad which has delicate blend of mango, papaya & pineapple alongside the Bellpeper salad tossed with bean sprouts a favourite on the streets of Istanbul. The Ablama– a Lebanese dish comprised of a stuffed Zucchini filled with meat, rice and tomatoes cooked with tomato sauce was an instant favorite. 

Ablama  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The menu is carefully crafted by Chef Dhawal Ajmera, who took the time from his packed schedule to sit down and go through his preparations with us. From pickles seasoned in his own kitchen, to research oriented menus and adaptations of world favourites to suit the Indian palate, one would be fooled by how much knowledge he has amassed at such a young age. A watchful eye on our plates and suggestions did make for an interesting, educative, experience indeed. 
Aloo tikki

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography    

From Pizzas with Mozarella cheese to the famous Korean Bulgogi with a twist, this place is a sensory delight for the world traveller who appreciates and experiments with multiple cuisines. It was more of an overload walking through the ‘isles of food coma’, a playful jest moment shared between us two surrounded by Pork spare ribs on one side and quesadillas on the other. Fresh hot baguettes and cheese to fritter prawns- Singapore style, it was a good place to be in. Unfortunately the aisle was rather narrow and I gawked like a stalker or so the prawns would have thought. The googly eyes were a dead giveaway. 
Picarones Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Moving over the the desserts on offer was a variety, from the Columbian Chocolate mousse to the deep fried Picarones (a Columbian version donut) which were smothered in honey syrup and dusted with cocoa, I couldn’t help but notice and wonder as to the ‘real’ reason behind Pablo Escobar’s weight gain. A few of these would be equivalent to an hour on the mill for me,at an incline that too, but I am sure Mr. Escobar would have savoured these from his motherland. 

 Pumpkin Pudding  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The Crepe Suzettes with an orange and honey glaze were delightful- do ask for a fresh batch and they would happily oblige and not go mention the gooey Pumpkin pudding from the streets of Brazil which were amazing. Lest not forget, the Jalebi and rabdi from our homeland which had me asking for a second helping. (Click on it to see the video) Yes, I’m a calorie fraud and I didn’t care right about then. 

The beauty of reciting this eclectic menu, is there is no stoppage in sight anytime soon. I could ramble on and confuse some, get hate mail from others- yet just leave one and all gasping for more. My simple suggestion is, make a reservation and head on over at the earliest as this festival closes on the 22nd of November. 

Bon Culinare Voyage!!!!!

A Date with Opa’s Arak 

I’ve dated a German before. Well, a few actually! Such warm and reserved folk and so dedicated to a cause. So when I heard, I was heading to OPA Bar & Cafe it perplexed me a little(OPA in German means Grandfather). I enter with a few friends only to have the fragrance of exotic mixes of sheesha fill the open air lounge. It’s heady and intoxicating almost instantly- with hints of green apple, paan, mint and orange filling the air. So much for my expensive perfume which was engulfed in entirety. 

I place myself at a table post the meet and greet and transcend almost instantaneously to the by lanes of Marrakech- a gentle morning session with the bustling streets with a cuppa chai and a sheesha for company a long long time ago. The chai in this case was the Arak Haddad Elite. Fast forward, to the first time I consumed this unassuming rather potent drink at a close friends place in Mumbai. It was an import procured by her on a recent trip to Istanbul. It was cause for a celebration with her husband and we decided to go for it at the stroke of midnight. In the confines of her house with no recording devices for proof, I distinctly remember the taste as clear as an hour before. Post consumption the next I find myself  waking up next to cat litter (thank god for small mercies my face was far away from the spoils of war). Remember the word unassuming? My point exactly! 

Since then I have kept this incident at the back of my mind. Apart from the deadly trio (Absinthe being one of them) which I hold and respect in reverence to the way they can turn you into a clapping monkey- Arak ranks high with its potency range of 40-63% proof. 

Dried dates with feta cheese and almonds 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The dried dates filled with Feta Cheese and almond shavings were delightful. While this was the item not coveted on the menu served by many, it had a significance in its role given the hardiness of the dates in fiber as well as the feta cheese to line the walls of ones stomach for that perfect sealant lining. It’s the best prevention for massive drinking (in this case minimum damage with a shot or two) to prevent the impending hangover. 

 Arak Haddad Elite
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

I have been informed there is going to be a dedicated section in the near future serving Moroccan tea and sheesha under Bedouin tents atop the terrace under the stars. As a concept and I look forward to those aromatic blends with gusto. There is nothing quite like it – a bucket list item so to speak. So if you feel lazy to hop into a flight to Turkey, head on over to OPA instead. 

Welcome to the Blog Party 

Woke up this morning to a lovely piece written about one of my communities- the bloggers and content generators in the OHeraldo newspaper in Goa. Aptly put and described with a holistic view on media and where it’s heading. 

A BIG shoutout and thanks to my fellow blogger and writer Fernando Monte da Silva for this piece. 

Stop reading, start blogging. Our tribe calls out to YOU

 

The Festive fiery season 

I love the festive season in Mumbai. Right in time for Diwali, the city is vibrant and overflowing with a buzz on overdrive with holiday mode in full swing,not to mention the chocolates and mithai that’s flooding my bag at the moment. 

And to add to this joy and celebration the ITC Maratha Mumbai,at their famous Dakshin restaurant -has introduced a Telangana menu at the able and passionate hands of Chef Sankara who hails from the newly divided state. At this juncture,I can think of Two states by Chetan Bhagat but we ain’t talking about a love story here just yet nor was Alia Bhatt at the far end table for company. 

The food from the state of Telangana is quite a boot camp for my senses. It’s quick and dirty with its flavors that send your gastronomic senses into a tizzy, with the level of spice playfully infused with chillies that would play tongue twister with you on multiple levels. 

I’m not a player in the realm quest for dragon’s breath nor do I intend to save the damsel in my shining armour this time round, however had to defeatingly quench my tickled tastebuds from the overdose of spice with a freshly squeezed sweet lime juice for company. 

Joined by a few foodie friends and the lovely and graceful Rini Sinha, who meticulously detailed the offerings with a doze of historical significance, it was a much needed sigh of relief before my next morsel. Mind you the food was scrumptious but the spice factor was a level 4 tectonic plate shifter in my books. 

Punugulu  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Diving right into the menu the spotlights apart from the filling thali being the star of the show and a must have for an overall meal, was the Punugulu- a deep fried green lentil dumpling which resembles much of a wada and anything that deep in crunch is something loved by all. 

Kodi Roast Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Move over immediately to the Kodi Roast- succulent chunks of fried chicken tossed in tempering chilli and koriander leaves with a melange of spice. 

Royala Vepudu  Pic courtesy:Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The highlight for my meal was the wafer paper thin Appam’s which I could not get enough off, accompanied with the Royala Vepudu- king prawns tossed with onion and tomato marinated with ground spices. A dry gravy, yet so moist the minute consumed with the ‘hot melt’ like appam’s. Bliss

There are a number of delights from the state on offer. Being a festival you have a limited time offer period running. It’s on from the 13th-22nd November only, so hurry and make your reservations for some mouth watering delicacies in the most literal sense of the word. 

Dining with ‘Legend’

I admit. I have procrastinated over this article for over 2 weeks. I have scribbled and scratched paper (the old fashioned ink to pen) tossed it in the garbage – had a cuppa more than needed and still run short to deliver what I thought would be a befitting article to what I ultimately penned. That’s when the realisation hit me. This article was never going to match up to anything in my head for two primary reasons- the gentleman written about was a Legendary Chef of the Taj Group of Hotels in his time and the more discerning fact of him being my grandfather who I never had the chance of meeting in person. Welcome to the Miguel Arcanjo @ Taj Exotica Goa.
Miguel Arcanjo fondly known as ‘Maskie’ Pic courtesy: Mitter Bedi Photography 
They say Legends are what one makes of them. Passed on thru time immemorare, it’s the build up which makes them larger than life. I happened to chance over his accolades (4 scrap books and counting) way back in 2006 when my mother decided to pen a biography about ‘Masci’ – as he was fondly known, which eventually won her the Special Jury award at the Gourmand World Cookbook awards in 2008. If your wondering what’s that? It’s the same award Julia Childs won a few years earlier. That book Masci- the Man behind the Legend is a short documented snippet of his life interspersed with a few management lessons and a few forgotten recipes of the maestro for company. It has been out of circulation since its award and is scheduled for a second edition sometime soon- back by popular demand!
It’s an lovely feeling sitting with people who ‘claim’ to know my grandfather over the years. I’ve heard multiple accounts of his life from a few people who are alive. All the stories percolate to two distinctive traits that shine through- him being a stickler for discipline in his kitchen and a maestro in everything he put his hand too. Genius is a word never used lightly however in his case use effortlessly by one and all who met or interacted with him. He cooked up a storm for dignitaries, celebrities, heads of state and rock stars alike and what grabbed headlines eventually was somewhere in the 70’s the Taj gifted him a kitchen worth a crore. Do the math it’s close to a Rs.55-60 crore kitchen in today’s day and age given inflation rates. 
Let’s focus on the task at hand though. The restaurant is revisited by me for the third time- however this time with the daunting task of me being settled into my writer avatar. No pressure, I assure myself as the specially crafted menu makes its way to our table. This is a tasting menu for the season ahead and has a revisit of some of Masci’s old documented recipes. 
I shall shed a spotlight for this post on ‘Nostalgia‘ which was his signature love for all things Portuguese and Goan. A simpleton at heart- Masci was known to relish his wife’s Deoniza cooking. He would head home for his afternoon siesta in between working hours for his power nap and his fish curry rice at my grandmothers hands. And just as he laid command over the kitchen at the Taj Mahal hotel he willingly handed over the same to his wife back home. It was her domain and that was the end of it. While the whole of Mumbai and the world were his ardent fans he had mad love for her and her cooking. 
The Taj Exotica Goa has painstakingly documented and researched his works and menus extensively and with their own twist have recreated some masterpieces from his hand written menus. Known for his Chicken Liver pate en encroute with toasted brioche and garnitures to the Chorizo de Goa– home cured pork sausages they came up with a delicate infusion of his famous Chorizo terrine, croquettes and Phyllo chorizo parcel the team as recreated magic all over again. Master class indeed- Would Masci have approved? I sure hope so given his soft corner for his home cuisine. 
Chorizo de Goa  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Let’s not forget a few exotics that made their way to the table. Masci known to experiment back in the day would be pleased. The Capesante- Canadian scallop with a sinful plum relish, sauce vierge sweet pea purée & angel hair crisp leeks was stelar. It took me all of 5 minutes to just admire the creation let alone contemplating eating it. 

Capesante  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

The beauty of a course menu, is one gets to know what’s in tow and I waited in anticipation for the Atlantic Black Cod baked with fermented soy bean,wilted young spinach with a brush of stewed rhubarb soy soil and lemon balm. It begged my mind to demand second serving. Table manners prevailed and I refrained. The infusion and blend of flavour is hard to describe. It’s a must try for sure. 
Atlantic Black Cod   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

A set menu is never complete without a single origin Jamaican Mountain brew. Exquisite and well balanced. It complimented the Opera perfectly. What is the Opera? Click here to find out more. 

As I sign off with a huge sigh of relief, I feel like Po from Kung Fu Panda having attained a glimpse into the enlightened gastronomic world of delicacies and Master Shifu being none other than the legend, the man, my grandfather who I fondly knew as ‘Papa’- Miguel Arcanjo Mascarenhas or to the culinary world ‘Masci of the Taj’.

Thank you for this schooling time and again. 

Welcome to the Dark side 

A disclaimer: this post is going to be ridden with errors as I have carried on part of a sensory experiment. I typed most of this with my eyes closed. Yes, you read correctly. After all I believe in a holistic submersive experience as was presented to me at the Alila Diwa Goa all but recently- the invite simply sent a chill down my spine ‘Welcome to Dine in the Dark‘.

dining-in-the-dark

As a concept, I have bared witness to this earlier, in my days of travel at Dans Le Noir in the charming area of Clerkenwell, London. This indeed was a first of its kind (to my knowledge) in Goa and I was eager as pleased to accept the invitation.

What is the concept? You eat in the dark. We all know the art of good food is primarily a hidden caveat with many eating with our eyes before the first morsel enters our gut. It’s visual appeal followed by the taste of the senses on most counts. It’s subconscious. This concept wipes clear the distraction with a pitch black canvas for visual company- the restaurant  insist one eats with their hands (there goes table manners out the window….thanks for nothing mum,knew it was a waste of time) and the servers for the evening are bang on cue with the drinks being guided like Air Force One pilots with the blind vision impairment trainings regiment undergone in case of a sudden nuclear explosion- ie in short -flying blind.

I arrive at the destination- Spice Studio an elegant, contemporary setting for a dining experience centered on the authenticity of Indian spices,and am greeted by Siddharth Savkur- General Manager and Rashmi Chittal, the PR & Marketing Manager, who painstakingly shadowed my erratic schedule to get me there on a Thursday (yes this happens once a week with a prior reservation in tow…so make a note on your calendar for the next one.) Siddharth or so I presumed for a moment having only shaken a hand was an eerie feeling (pitch darkness remember) and all but suddenly hooked onto the familiarity of his voice to guide me to my seat. This is NOT his first rodeo, having done this on multiple occasions is at ease. Lest be known that this is my second time with a gap of almost a decade in between. Helped for saving face but hey who could see? Right?! evil grin.

The cuisine is inspired by a 100 mile radius of the quintessential Indian thali. I obviously was not privy to the menu. I got to know about it only post the completion where I was informed of the dishes I ate.

A short summary and sequence of events that followed…. Crunch…ah there goes the paapad (a roasted Indian bread) got that one right, only a few 20 odd items to go. My hands fumbled to the nearest dish, only to find them dipped into something squishy- a gravy perhaps. Oh wait a minute,that tasted like prawn- and enticingly so, might I add. Going in for the kill of adjusting my palate the way one is used too, I landed with a surge of sweetness on my next bite. I consumed a Rajbhog whole. It was all too familiar A sweetness that jolted me out of my chair. Do try and imagine a mildly spiced curry followed by a dessert soaked in sugar water

Get the drift? Like, Mad Max for my senses all night long. I had the salty twang of pickle interspersed with a carrot halwa all in the same gambit. An experience for the books indeed. A riot of flavor just the way an Indian thali is meant to be savored and enjoyed not in that particular order mind you. One can choose between a vegetarian and non vegetarian option.

The non vegetarian option was a zinger indeed. From the Peeli Mirch ka Murg, Rawa fried fish fillet, Rajma aur kele ki shammi (a brilliant blend of rajma beans and banana kebab) to the Jhinga masala (prawns) and the all time favorites Rajbhog and Gajar ka Halwa (Indian carrot dessert) this was one meal that devoured my senses silly. It leaves you acclimatising oneself from start to finish. One lays in suspense -prior and post, having experienced the art of interstellar travel that occurs in the midst of all this.

Oh and if your wondering when does the photograph arrive? It’s dark baby. And I’ve transitioned to the dark side. The force is strong in this one – Master Yoda save me.

Richter scale cupcakes 

Today was a good day. A peaceful day. A day when one just wishes to do nothing significant, nothing impactful, nothing earth moving or so I thought.  (let’s hold that thought till a little later in this post

Wash the bike, clean my room, stand in line to pay the bills, fill up gas, watch an odd movie and jump to the opportunity to baby sit a cutie pie from next door. My little bundle of joy- Anaaya, who happens to be my bestie’s niece. She’s my go to girl when I need a few shitz’n’giggles. And that’s saying a lot considering I’m mostly on the doleing end. A hop skip & jump had me head over to Anaaya’s place and we decided to bake some good ol fashioned cupcakes with aunt Ayesha at the helm. 

There is nothing like being schooled by a kiddo on the art of making a perfect cupcake. I was tempted to take Cupcake  June along to showcase my quota (without having to go through the process of baking it myself. Her name would suffice and carry me thru I suppose, but then that would be cheating now

So off went the three Musketeers to the kitchen in the quest of the perfect baked cupcake. Ayesha busy on the recipe book following it to the tee had time for Anaaya and I to goof around galore. (Evil smile) Moments later, I’m playing with gummy bears and smarties. Condiments to the final product but they created quite the battle of Gettysburg scenario dying for a good cause in Anaaya’s mouth. She devoured them and then some. I joined her too eventually. The temptation was too great and those bears had to die for a eventful cause. 

We played see-saw where Anaaya was a mountaineer climbing Everest (being my thighs) she almost squished my ‘family jewels’ at base camp though, an honest mistake, given I wore loose khakis and she never really knew where to tread on.  Ayesha as usual had a hearty laugh at my expense. Redefined the termed ‘cracking one up’ for the both of us, equally painful in minor respects or so I hope- what do you think? her lock jaw or my trap jaw. Which would be more painful?  I’ll leave you the be the judge of that. We created the Richter cupcake eventually in this fabulous video. Link: https://youtu.be/Q8m5wC0IUg4

You have to watch the professionalism of Anaaya playing horsey with me not having a tripod. A classic Hyperlapse for the ages. 

Much love my rockstar. Till we bake cupcakes again. 

P.S. How did they taste? Fantastic with a extra oodle of baking powder. That’s how. Booyah!!!! Baked out. 

Choco chip cupcakes   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Gone ba-na-nas

I’m going to sing a song. You have one guess to get it right. It goes a little something like this;

Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-nanaBa-ba-ba-ba-ba-nana banana-ah-ah 

togari noh pocato-li kani, malo mani kano chi ka- baba, ba-ba nana 

It’s Minion time. And while I’m on the subject of these lovable hilarious characters, I must say after a hectic trip to Jaipur, rather spiritual and fulfilling in nature, I’m back to doing what I do best – going bananas at Off the Wall in Sinquerim near Fort Aguada. A quaint and creative Art-Bistro wherein one can witness the art of food and art in general medium. It’s a rental space where one can even hold their own exhibitions. The food compliments it perfectly, at the hands of Ian Marc De Souza . Creatively inspired. A man who shares a similar penchant for travel, rather a sufferer of wanderlust like yours truly, he is back from one of his jaunts, to lands of mystery and unfulfilled quest for discovery. He delights me as always by catering to my sweet tooth apart from other delicacies he has picked up from his worldwide travels. Let me get these delicacies mentioned out of the way before I head on, first is a must try, the Pan-Pizza. A  pizza with a southern Italian salsa, red onions, bell peppers, Home made goan chouriçe, topped off with oodles of mozzarella and American cheddar, thin crust style. The sweet delicate balance of sweet and tangy with a crunchy bite sends one into a stratospheric gastronomic realm. And I insist as a personal favorite there, to consume the succulent Grilled Tenderloin Steak with pepper n garlic , delicately finished off in the oven served with grilled cherry tomatoes, sauteed Greens with olive oil & smoked paprika and oregano. As Ian recommends it best served Medium. Do check out and subscribe to my Instagram feed to see these delightful images. The handle is @nolansatwit, for those unaware.

Having merely mentioned in conversation of my backyard banana tree yielding fruit and not knowing what to do with an abundance of butter bananas in my kitchen, he scoots off into the kitchen to come back with a simple yet scrumptious , Banoffie  Pie– a biscuit texture-NUT crumble base, laden with banana caramel toffee, and fresh butter banana slices, served with a side of crème Chantilly! Now that’s just putting words, not to mention bananas in my mouth.

Banoffie Pie   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

And with his impish smile he carries on to call for the second dessert to grace our table – fresh banana slices and sauteed in butter, with bruleed brown sugar accompanied by an almond crumble. Now while this may seem simple (and mind you it is enough for me to consume it as a 3 am sweet craving snack) and unassuming it is a power house dessert that will leave you wanting and unfortunately pining for a second helping. Better hit the treadmill post. I had to roll out of his joint. Literally.

So before the minions head on over there after reading this on the World Wide Web, I suggest you make a Gru line towards this place. Are you drooling like Kevin yet? Go and grab some ba-na-na!