Indi’Go’ deli

Indigo (the restaurant) was my favourite place to dine at as I became a teenager. They served exotic Italian food (in an age when Little Italy and Trattoria were the only Italian restaurants), Hrithik Roshan (the then love of my life) ate there and it was ‘different’. My idea of success in life was the day I could eat at Indigo just like that (don’t curse me for low ambition, currently Nobu, London is the aim)

A Deli, is a place which sells cured meats, exotic cheeses and more by weight. On the side, it offers a dine-in experience mostly made up of sandwiches and salads (thanks Wikipedia). In all honesty, its an informal yet delicious dining experience. The Indigo Deli isn’t cheap but isn’t as hoitytoity as the Colaba restaurant and proves wonderful for Indigo fangirls like me. I get to see or buy my favorite cheeses, I get to feel the bustle while enjoying good food and well, its a nice ‘New Yorkish’ experience. Or was.

Monday evening, however, was a dampener. We walked in early, to get a table in their dining section. We  managed to get a table in the deli area because it was quite empty, but I asked for a table in the dining section. I was told the section was closed. That’s it . No reason. The Bawa guessed it could open at a later time and he asked why it was closed.
‘It only opens at 7.’

My watch said it was 6.56 pm, but before I could say anything, I was told, the section was only by reservation only.

‘Can I reserve a table now?’

‘Its booked up ‘

Wow. What a way! The staff is so well versed with the seating chart that she doesn’t even want to check before telling me that the seating was full. Now, if this was a Saturday or a Friday, I’d believe her, but it was a Monday. The Bawa pulls a lawyer and waits a while before saying that he just called their landline and was told that there was a table.

The lady, in all her earnestness says that that was because the section opened at 7.30. Wow! The time changed and she knew it without anyone telling her. Talk about telepathy.

Was there a need to lie? By the time the manager came (upon our calling of course), I decided I did not want to  eat there anymore. The manager was sweet, well behaved and extremely apologetic. She did try to cover up for the goof up and I give her points for that, but the damage was done. Probably, with my fatku jeans and crumpled shirt the waitress had thought I wasn’t worth a table. If I was sporting a Louis vuitton bag, I would get better treatment, I am sure.

Because in truth eating at Indigo (the restaurant), is often like being in Goa during the X’mas season. Unless you’re well dressed and look like you deserve a table, no bhao. I don’t mind that because well, Indigo is quite formal. But the reason I thought the Akerkars started a Deli was to cater to a crowd less formal and hence there would be no snootiness. But today, I was mildly shocked and massively annoyed.

If you lie to me blatantly and point fingers and loudly bitch about me, I’m taking my business elsewhere. You deserve my money if you can be nice to me.

Serving great food alone isn’t enough. Being kind while doing so is what brings a customer back. With their lies and more lies, Indigo Deli lost itself a customer. But more importantly my evening was almost ruined. Thank God we walked out!

PS: Sherine, I know you wanted to eat there… I apologise on their behalf.


Mango- It’s great for you

(Disclaimer: If you think this is a fashion related post, my apologies. We are talking about the fruit not the fashion label)

For the last month or so, people around me just won’t stop cribbing about the summer.  ‘It’s mangowala season. The heat is worth it,’ I try to see the glass half full.

But recently, be it twitter, gym or even random dinner parties, everyone I meet seems to be appalled that I eat alphonso mangoes almost every day. I have been on a diet ever since I can remember. I am always about eating healthy and dissing junk food and I do count calories every step of the way. Apparently eating a mango every day is inconsistent with the above statements.

Bullshit. Mangoes are health food. I’d be a fool to deprive myself of the joys and goodness that a mango has to offer, based on half-baked information.  This is what the real deal is. Here is what mangoes are all about. Read!

  1. Mango = Lot of sugar: 1 mango has approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar, according to a few well-experienced nutritionists. However, this is sugar is fructose. It is a natural form of sugar devoid of any chemicals. Two nutritionists who are highly qualified and well-informed tell me that this sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. In simple words, this sugar is easy to digest and fairly acceptable when you’re controlling your calorie or sugar intake.
  2. King of nutrition: Mangoes come packed with Vitamin A, B, C, E and K and what’s more they are a rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. Also, mangoes have a decent amount of dietary fiber that not only improves the digestive system but also aids weight-loss by making one feel satisfied.

Even though they contain a lot of sugar, Mangoes give your body a wealth of vitamins, minerals, fibers and anti-oxidants. With its nutritional content, mangoes are a great snack/meal option.

Why do most trainers and dieticians assume mangoes are a threat to fitness?

Like most foods, Mango is not bad for you but the way you eat it makes it bad for you. Most households serve a mango as dessert right after a meal or serve mango pulp (aamras) with a full meal. Also, we are in the habit of eating 2-3 (sometimes 7, yours truly holds that record) at a go. If eaten in either of the above manner, mango ends up being a fattening food. Let me explain.

Mango is best eaten as a meal by itself. According to Dr. Davare, a renowned Ayurvedic nutritionist, a mango is best eaten as breakfast or a pre-breakfast (before you head out for a workout) meal, every alternate day. If you eat a mango along with a full meal, the excess sugar gets converted to fat. In fact when I weighed 73 kilos and had an impossible target of 20 kilos to shed, I was allowed to eat a mango twice a week.

One is a powerful number: Don’t eat more than one mango. More than one mango means a lot of sugar which, if not utilized for energy, will lead to fat storage. You might think that one mango isn’t enough for a meal. You’d be surprised. It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to convey satiety to your brain. One mango can satisfy your hunger, just be patient.

Eat it raw: Yes, aam ras tastes awesome, so does mango milkshake and there’s nothing is wrong with enjoying these once in a while. However, juicing a fruit up leads to lesser satiety and you end up consuming more calories. On an average, one big bowl of aam ras is made from the pulp of 1.5 mangoes and of course we can’t forget the calories added by the jaggery or sugar. One rarely stops at one bowl of aam ras and there’s always a second helping involved. You do the math.  Also, when you blend or pulp a fruit, the fruit begins to oxidize which brings down its nutritional value (vit C is instantly lost). Blending usually destroys the fiber contained in a fruit. Therefore, any fruit is best eaten fresh and in its original form.

Next time you see a mango, don’t deprive yourself. Go ahead, bite into the aromatic, juicy fruit. Let the experience of eating a mango leave pale yellow stains on your t-shirt. As you bite into the pulpy Alphonso, let the juice drip into your palm. Extract every bit of juice, pulp from the ‘guthlee’ or ‘koy’ using your teeth until the fibers on the guthlees start looking whiter and whiter.  Enjoy the experience of eating a mango the way you did as a kid. Leave the guilt at home! If anyone tries to induce guilt, tell them to get in touch with me.

(Source: Common sense, Science textbook standard IV, my own pursuit of healthiness and Rujuta Divekar’s Lose Your Weight, Don’t Lose Your Mind)

Pies, an abusive husband, a good doctor… A well baked story!

Of late I have been hooked to Castle, the TV series starring Natahn Fillion and I have been gushing to all and sundry about what a cutie pie he is. So I was steered toward this movie about pies which stars Nathan.
Of course, I started watching it reluctantly. I’d never heard of the film, I am on a diet and the last thing I needed was to watch a film about pies and start craving them. But I was suffering from a massive writer’s block, not much was coming out of the writing effort and the film was downloaded and sitting on my desktop. So, I began watching it.
Right from the get go, the film sucked me into feeling the underlying emotion, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a bleak Wednesday evening.
The Story:
The Waitress takes us into the life of Jenna, a girl working hard for a living in southern America only to surrender all her money to her abusive husband, Earl. She longs to get out of the marriage, win a pie baking contest and be happy, but when she learns she is pregnant, she feels helpless and desperate. She goes about weighing her options as she invents a new pie each day (I can’t wait to try the bad baby pie and the ‘im having an affair pie’). Her only friends her co-workers. There’s also Old man Joe, a difficult customer who loves Jenna’s pies and is fond of Jenna.
In her quest to be happy and be appreciated, she ends up having an affair with Dr. Pomatter. All the loose ends of Jenna’s life are tied the moment she holds her newborn daughter, and thats the moment where Jenna takes the decisions she had always been putting off.
I’ve always loved films revolving around food or films that use food as a metaphor… The Waitress uses ‘pie making’ ever so adorably to tell us that we can reinvent our lives if we wanted to. It’s a shame that the film never made it to India, but I can understand why. To understand the film, it is important to understand the life in the American south. The America we outsiders see in popular films or TV shows is very different from interior America. It’s hard to understand why a girl like Jenna sticks with her husband even though he’s a jackass without understanding the life in interior America.
Keri Russell does a fine job of taking the audience through the emotions of a pregnant woman who goes from not wanting the baby to deriving the strength to dump her husband from her baby. She effortlessly lets you feel her desperation, helplessness and she makes you fall in love with her pies….
And may I add, I enjoyed mulling over about the film as much as I enjoyed watching it. I love films that seem light hearted and simple but give you a lot to think about… The Waitress is certainly one of those films…
And other films that involve food and are also good food for thought:
Chocolat: The metaphor is just wow!
Julie and Julia: Two women, common factor, food… Their journey
Sideways: It uses wine, but hey… Wine is food…
Ratatouille: Anyone can cook!
… and many more…

A recipe, a heirloom and an eyeopener

My grandmom is a phenomenal cook. She makes the most delectable fish curries and all but her true speciality is laddoos. She makes so many awesome laddoos that she has penned a book with 52 recipes of laddoos. And everyone from literary figures to politicians enjoy her laddoos.
And amongst the usual, her speciality is choormyache laddoo not the soft guju variety. They r crunchy and nutty! This one is awesome. It is a difficult difficult laddoo to make. But my grandmom wants to pass the recipe on as a heirloom.
So on my birthday, I argued with her. ‘no u shud not b making laddoos, take rest!’
‘and the taiyyari! I’ll put the paatis on ur head?’
‘i’ll make na!’
‘tond Bagh tujha! If u make them, I’ll give u a lakh of rupees!’
And obv I love being challenged so I jumped in. I don’t want the money. But that recipe is precious and the joy that my grandmom would get out of me learning from her: MasterCard style: priceless!
So on a lazy birthday morning, I dropped the phone and stood next to her as she made the perfect ‘golibandh’ paak (syrup).
‘the true magic is making the paak right and then moulding the laddoos while the mixture is hot. I’m warning you, it will burn ur palms.’
And truly, as we grabbed the mixture, I huffed and puffed. And yet I moulded those laddoos. Tears welled up. ‘why do u go through this? Why?’
‘because u all love eating them’
‘look, while I can, I will make it. It’s not a practical recipe but u will tell ur children and grandchildren about the awesome laddoos ur grandmom made. Bassss’
This woman is phenomenal. She has had a pampered childhood, and yet she sailed my grandfather and my uncles through a rough patch (they, I’m told, were almost bankrupt) that went on forever and now she can afford the lap of luxury but she chooses to make each day a challenege and she loves her kitchen like it were her best friend (she has a 40 yr old gas stove because she can’t bear to part with it ‘it helped me cook thru a lean patch’ is what she says)
Her love has noursihed us, literally. And as I learn the recipe she hopes I will at least recall and relate to my bacha party, I wonder if I would have the tenacity to burn my fingers to make laddoos that my kids would relish? Have we lost the ability to love like there’s no tomorrow? Have we lost the idea of putting other’s joys before ours? And have we lost it because life has been a bit too kind to us? I wonder

Rajdhani: Food Paradise

I’d heard about Rajdhani and finally, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I managed to check out this celebrated Gujarati Thali joint. First up, you can’t miss the wafting aromas of farsan and ghee laden fulkas doing the rounds. You settle down before a massive thali with dozen of katoris. And then… the food starts to trickle in.
Chutneys, achar, salads, farsan, fulkas with ghee, rotlas with makkhan, pooranpoli, veggies, curries, dahi wada, kadhi, dals, papads and of course dessert. The plate looks delightful and impossible to finish but I proudly announce I did.

I have no idea why I have never come to this place before. The food is vegetarian but its so awesome you don’t regret the lack of meat. The service is fantastic. You don’t have to tell the waiters to get you refills, they observe if your katoris are empty and come to serve you whatever you want. And yes, even if you don’t want a phulka, they will insist you have it. PiWi wanted her phulka without ghee. She was served phulkas by 3 different waiters but she didn’t have to repeat her instruction. Of course, you can’t eat such a heavy meal regularly, and I was tired of eating by the end of it. All I had to do was sip some of their smoke chaas, which is genius btw, and I was feeling ready to get up and get going.

All in all for just Rs.225/- per person for the unlimited thali, this was an awesome experience. The ambience is awesome and the service is just fab. Go, if you haven’t already!

Ladhabhai Mansion
Ground flr
New Queens Road, Opera House
Mumbai – 400 004
91-022-2361 3060 / 61

Faster’s feast

I have lived and loved Mumbai with a passion. I have combed through it’s crowded streets and hid in it’s quiet corners. I have loved it’s openness and enjoyed it’s diversity and yet, I have been taking the city’s spirit for granted. It takes an RK and WK to make me see the city like never before.
RK n his wife W live in London, while RK grew up in India, W grew up in London. Both have a passion for food and are very enthusiastic and outgoing. RK announced last morning that he wanted to visit Mohammed Ali Road during Ramadan. I had heard about it, I had seen celebrity photos but never been there.

So we started the adventure. Parents, A Mama and family, RK, W and family in tow. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic crowd on the streets. The steady flow of people ensured that one kept moving at a steady pace. Once we crossed the main road and stepped into the Minara Masjid lane, aromas of meat crackling on fiery coal, malpua sizzling in oil made sure that our mouth was watering. I wasn’t going to brave the roadside eateries, not with a bunch of pardesis whose digestive systems could collapse with the unhygienic conditions. However, those street stalls are all about the vibe or as they say in Urdu, ‘Mahoul’. Lights that made the Minarets of the Masjid sparkle, women dressed up in glittering outfits, add to that the street side shops shimmering with trinkets and more. One word for it all- fantastic (a bit chaotic but I am not complaining).

Minara Masjid by the night
Minara Masjid by the night

It’s one thing to enjoy the madness on the street but quite another to attempt eating there. If you like eating your food in a slightly less chaotic ambience head straight to one of the restaurants in the locality. I suggest you get there early- say by about 8.30 pm to avoid a long wait for the table. Shalimar Restaurant is said to be a one stop shop for all the Ramadan goodies and has an awesome AC section you can comfortably settle into. What’s more, the food is authentic and delectable!

We were all in a celebratory mood, so good conversation flowed. The table was soon jam packed with kebabs, cold drinks and more. There was Bhuna gosht, which was greasy enough to give my dietician a stroke. The tikkas, shammis and seekhs were succulent and packed with flavour. I’m guessing they came straight off an authentic Sigdi! No electric oven can match the distinct taste of the meat cooked on charcoal.

The Bhunas and Kadais were very oily, but they were so good on the flavour that just a bite sent me straight into heaven. We decided to take the adventure further with some Bheja fry and Bheja masala. The sweet n spicy masala, with the luscious brain meat made me go back to my childhood, when I enjoyed Bheja Masala served in Crystal Punjab (RIP). The rotis and Naans straight off the tandoor with the curries and kebabs were a match made in heaven! There was just no reason for us to complain about the food. I guess this is why the fast is worth it, spiritual reasons aside.

The entire meal would have been incomplete without dessert. We were directed to the Mithai section of the restaurant. Out came the Aflatoons, which were greasy to the core but they were packed with such wholesome taste and texture. Although the kulfis and the faloodas were mind-blowing, what took the cake was the Malpua. A dude sat there cracking eggs into a vessel to mix a batter and frying humungous pancakes and then stuffing them with cream and dried fruits and nuts. Just plain awesome.

Of course, last evening set me back by a month in terms of my weightloss goal, but I am not complaining. It was worth every single calorie and I mean it. You have two more days. Shun your inhibition and head to the food heaven that is Mohammed Ali Road. If you can’t make it this year, make sure you go next year. But do make sure you go there atleast once in your lifetime, because this, my friend, is a true foodie’s Mecca!

July July

July was fabulous. I was on my toes with work and yet I ended up watching a lot of films, reading some books and enjoying quality time with family and friends. So here is a quick recap:

Films: It was raining good cinema for me this month. I got my BigFLIX membership in place, so have caught up on my backlog of films to watch. So yes, there was a lot of cinema. I enjoyed watching Jaane Tu… in the theatre with Sneha, Jugal and Nanya. It was funny, how I ended up watching Girl Interrupted and The Dark Knight back to back. I saw a lot, I repeat a lot of films last month. Girl Interrupted inspired me to write this:

Music: Mainly tripped on Hindi music this month. I had criticised Kahin toh from Jaane tu because it was ripped off from an English song. But the lyrics are just so beautiful. ‘Jaane na kahan who duniya hai/Jaane na who hai bhi ya nahin/ Jahan meri Zindagi mujhse/ Itni Khafa nahin’

Of course, Simon&Garfunkel are still ruling the iPod!

Ambition: I want to buy a new phone. But I can’t decide which one

Dreams: Weird stuff. Pannu and me planning to leave for a long holiday, then there was one where I was ill and didn’t want to tell people… Just a lot of weird shit

Moments: Quite a few that made me smile. There are people around me who have such immense faith in my writing! Thanks Avya kaka, Mohit, Nani, Sneha and Jugal!

Regrettable: Watching City of Dreams. As Omu called it- City of Nightmares

Boohoo factor: Pannu left for Jaipur and I won’t be seeing her for 2 months! Boohoo!

Food: Yet again I have been well nourished! Ate everything and the last two weeks, I have gone for meat like never before. I enjoyed a nice meal at Da Vinci with Omu dada… Mom’s birthday dinners were good stuff. The rooftop restaurant at Orchid is so lovely. On a rainy day, the cool breeze, the pitter patter of rain and the well lit runway just make the place magical. The food is just about okay, and the service, just about alright!

We also went to Gaylords for a meal and the conversation that night was fodder for thought. It gave birth to a post.

People: I met up with Avya kaka for a great lunch. One of the best evenings I had was a Sunday, where I met Om after a long time. We sat and talked and talked, as usual. After that I met Sneha and Jugal, we drove to MIG in his new car! We had great food, great conversation and then another fancy drive. We ate ice-cream, walked near Carter Road… Friends make life worth living.

Missing: Shefali and our late night dinners and ‘discussions’ at 59 east slope! Lathia and Satam, they just haven’t met me in a long time. Urvashi Rao, for the walks at SP, random movies and intense discussions about fate, people and life… Basically, I have been missing friends.

Dreading: How hectic work’s going to get soon

Enjoying: A thousand splendid suns

Wondering: How can things like height, complexion, income and location help someone find the love of their lives!

Figuring out: What do I exactly want?