Taste of Potrero

Now after having had the grand privilege of attending Taste of London in 2009, and Taste of Mumbai, why would i leave a chance to make it a Trilogy of Tastes!

Knowing me i very well could, given how #firstworldproblem even writing a blog becomes, because for that you have to open your laptop, coz who blogs on mobile when you can tick mark all the pics on camera and it will auto-broadcast on three other platforms in less than a minute! Ok ok.. before i get carried away..

I must state that I may pass out at any point of time because of the self induced food comatose that I have got myself in after a long.. long… l.o.n.g. time. I was almost fed up of food so much that I have taken up to two meals a day and some random snacks in between (i know.. thats the loophole). A good meal here and there, and my soul was fed.

And then to think of this evening, when i was actually debating whether to go for it or not. After all it was coinciding with my dance class and i knew i would unnecessarily keep stuffing myself if i saw something interesting, which of course i DID! But of course it wasn’t just random stuff that only looked interesting, it was the shit! The stuff that i wouldn’t even imagine in my dreams, and by the way I do dream of food..that too quite often.

I’ll start with the most ordinary unexceptional homemade nachos with guac and sumac cheese! O dear lord i just realised how difficult writing this blog is going to get considering all the ingredients that i’d never heard of before today! So to make it easier i’ll just go with my own way of describing it and we can correct it on the way as we go. Ok!

So i’ll start with the ravishing stall Rooh, where I saw all the meaty delicacies lying at three levels, only to be emptied and refilled one after another before i could finish the word “Oh! this place is so windy!” Sorry that was a sentence.. but you get the drift!

So i moved on to my own search and found these jewels by the end of an hour search of stuffing my face and being mind boggled every 15 minutes!

  1. Coconut air sprayed bombs from this place on coconut flattened cookie, was like the best combination of what creaminess stuffed with riddles on top of crispiness can do to your palate.
  2. Pearl pasta from this place was a welcome change in terms of shape and texture that we usually associate with heavy carb ridden italian home meal.
  3. Savoury profit roles made of cheese and strawberry ones from this lady on the middle of the hall facing august 15 ‘s stall..were divine to say the least!
  4. Now Am a pescatarian, so you can imagine my wonder and surprise when i asked for an octopus puff with caviar form this place because it looked so damn innocent and delectable.
  5. That wasn’t it, I also had a sea urchin toast which was next to this stall that was selling my next favourite thing in this list..
  6. Cucumber gazpacho as shots was such a refreshing novel and healthy idea that i wish to stick to for the whole of summers here.
  7. Now this stall made me reverse jump with pure JOY and i can not wait to go to them for a full fledged lunch with truffle quiche followed by beautiful beefy brownies!
  8. Good thing, its almost summer time and i know this place thats going to be my go-to for deliciousness in a cup every now and then. Not just can i explore flavours that are sinful but also harmful without feeling a tinge of guilt. Now is this genius or what!
  9. There was this another station for little flavourful oils, jams and jelly that they were serving with goat cheese. I bet you would’ve never tasted goat cheese this delicious!

Now coming to what i didn’t like as much and believe a bit of twist may do wonders : is the mushroom cones with cranberry and white chocolate topped with edible flowers.

Even though every ingredient in there is a personal favourite but somehow the combination didn’t feel right, as much as it should have given what it consists of. But i’d remember them for thinking wild, and creating something brave.

Now if only someone could fill in the blanks for me. This was such a great experience and totally challenged the foodie out of me. I used my highest appetite and capacity to get to know each one of the dishes that i could digest and know more about its origins.

Please hit me up if you’d like me to do a deep dive into any of this. I’d be happy to oblige.

 

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Burma Burma

If anyone thinks that you need to have a bar and serve meat to have a successful restaurant, then this is the sweetest slap on their face.

This restaurant is making me write after a hiatus of more than a year, well that should speak for itself to begin with. Other than my aversion to drinking or binging out for no reason or rhyme, it does make this blog kinda limited edition. And then there are taxes.. you do kind of feel guilty if that list is longer than what you order.

So this place was on my agenda for a long time (read: over few months). The only reason stopping me was the long drive from Delhi to cyber hub. We all know the kind of mental preparation that needs if you’re not used to crossing states on a daily basis.

Speaking of states, this place boasts of a cuisine that we usually think is bland, raw, and hence healthy. Now I have not been to Burma (now Myanmar) yet. But this place makes me want to! And that is a big credit on top of the ambience, service, clientele, and the kind of food they serve here. From a big CEO’s family to one side, to a bunch of start up kids on the other, the gamut of its clientele is mass and all inclusive. With a cover of around 50 seats in a place like cyber hub where people are spoilt for choices, there’s a waiting queue, reservation line and a turnaround of covers most evenings and afternoons. Either that goes to say that people are becoming health conscious as the majority of menu is either salad/soups  and noodles. Or they have just taken up to this cuisine and made it palate worthy. Yes Samosas in chickpea soup can only be as delicious when its a love child between Burma and Delhi! Now I wouldn’t go into the main course or the dessert, coz my explanation may border on being repetitive, so I\ll leave you with just this. Pick your phone, book a table and try it for yourself.

Lost Recipes of Mughal Era

The last time I had heard anyone mention about Akbarnama or Ain-i-Akbari, it was probably in the history class, way back in school. Or perhaps in a periodic cinema of Jodha Akbar, I don’t even recall.

If you have been a vegetarian all your life, it is unlikely that hearing Mughlai cuisine will excite you one bit, especially if you are as ignorant as I was about this kind of food.. until now.

Cuisines like Awadhi, Rampuri or Mughlai despite being hyper local, are much celebrated in its own way. Flaunting a loyal clientage and following, it does make sense to have its own festivals now and then, despite the risk of running losses. Either to educate people about the rich history and culture they carry with it or to revisit the stories of the bygone era that we can only imagine now. I was lucky to be able to get that glimpse into centuries ago for the authenticity this festival happened to bring with his recipes.

May be that was one of the reasons I had been yearning to pay a visit here after I couldn’t make it to Rivaayat-e-Rampur that happened in early March this year. Rich food and I share a love hate relationship. I know I want to have it, but usually I almost regret it right after. As if you have to compensate for it by working out double time. So I prefer to keep such meals for lunch but this was to happen during dinner instead.

A set menu card of three course was brought upon that laid out all the details that we should be expecting. I was preparing myself for all the richness and over- eating to follow as often happens during an Indian meal out. May be its pointless to say at this point that I was in for a surprise.

As soon as the drink appeared, the pan flavoured cocktail in a champagne tulip – the prettiest one i have ever seen so far (having spent considerable time in F&B – I believe I have seen many). This glass, enclosed in a silver framework stemmed in opulence that speaks oodles of royalty, was just a start. I was hooked in its intricacy and the beauty of the design that held my pink coloured drink. It was a beginning of a royal reconnaisance, a story of a princess who decides to explore a cuisine that she knows nothing about.

The flighty dream is soon enhanced by the entrance of a time traveller in the shape of Osama Jallali, who claims to have had ancestors who worked as the chefs in the kitchens of Mughals, now appearing straight from the Oberoi‘s kitchen to start the story telling around what I have in front of me.  I devoured the starters and left the plate like it was never used in the first place- wiped clean like a mirror.

It would be an understatement if I said the ingredients used were not only basic but usually the ones that are overlooked and underrated, like colocacia leaves and its roots (arabi), pearl millets (bajra) buckwheat, etc. Cooked without the use of tomato or chillies ’cause it never existed in India at that time, spiced only through the use of peppercorn. I mean who gives a sh!t? But thanks to Chef Ravitej Nath, who supervised and facilitated the whole festival; to attain such levels of accuracy of the palate that once existed.

I was waiting for more, when they actually went and got a lot more for the main course in a big round thali. The dream was in its second phase, the flavours were at its peak, the storytelling even more intense and the appetite just about whetted.

Saffron, dry fruits, grapes in curry, were the things that kept the royals full on there vegetarian days. Yes! apparently Akbar was a vegetarian on Fridays and Sundays. While Aurangzeb was vegetarian for a larger part of his life. I am glad i have some similarity to share with them. The Maestro continued with his stories and secrets from the box of his spices. I felt like I was sitting across someone who has time travelled and paid an exclusive visit to us just so he can showcase what that era was like.

After recovering a short fatigue from thali, we advanced towards the dessert, raring to go. So he appeared again, this time, with one dish that he restricted me to have. He didn’t know how that action makes someone to want it even more. So I dived right in with my little silver spoon and just tasted it preempting no such danger – except one. It had me totally dumbfounded, when the messenger of Mughal Era mentioned that it was the gosht ka halwa meaning MEAT!!! Not in the wildest of my dreams I could’ve expected such smooth deception of my tastebuds.

Only such a self committed crime could’ve peaked the dream further and get the princess back into a reality. So it did and how. But there was more! The naankhatai in a silver sandook with the most subtle and loveliest tea ever made. Now before I drift off into reminiscing the smell of that tea and the details of the delicate silver cup it came in, you have a chance to experience something similar at Le Meridien Gurgaon for Shahjahanabad Food Festival until 20th Sep, 15.

Ethiopian Encounter

Following from the last post, and continuing my search on – for more Slow Food, I landed in the Cultural Embassy of Ethiopia in Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri.

I will skip the details of how I got the entry and managed to get a table. As that might be in the territory of shady business. But like we all know everything is fair in love and war, and especially for the Love of Food.

The thing about good food – No matter how good it is our tastebuds will get used to it eventually. Just like life, no matter how glad it becomes, you can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness. dum..da da dum..da da dum..da..da..dada da da.

So with full of a new kind of anticipation, I was waiting -wondering how the vegetarian food is going to be. Meanwhile a lot more people occupied other tables and I thought ‘Wow this place is really popular!’

And finally when my tray arrived, appetising was the last word on my mind but I was still drooling, may be more out of curiosity than hunger. Like how we have banana-leaf lined plates in South India, this one was fully lined with a thick-white dosa like pancake. A bit frothy and thicker in texture, its much blander and perfect to go with the accompaniments that are served on it. About 7-9 different accompaniments, few stir fried, few pastes, some stew, and one in powdered form were rather scattered around on top of this crepe, which I found out later is called Injera. It was made of teff– that was another mystery revealed to me.

I took a minute to figure out how one should start eating this, as there was cutlery lying by the side. And I wondered if this white pancake is for decor or actually edible. A quick instinct later, i just started tearing it and dug in to feed myself. What followed was so bustling that I stopped only when i couldn’t tear it anymore. And mind you, i managed to finish only half of Injera. It was so filling, and delicious and wholesome!

This is by far the simplest looking meal I’ve had, that am including on this blog. Not so much of an appeal to your eyes yet the most titillating to the tastebuds. Owing to the ingredients used and basic methods of preparation that makes it worthy to be part of the SlowFoodMovement.

An ultra-rare combination to find. Much like its’ listing. This place is so exclusive that you won’t even find it on Zomato; even if you search Ethiopian cuisine!

Now doesn’t that make my website uber exclusive?

Rosang Soul Food

You wouldn’t even know about this place until someone seasoned recommends to you or just takes you there by surprise.. like it happened to me. Located in some corner of some street in Green Park, it stands on its own only for its loyal clientele. And what a clientele to boast of, well.. let me keep it until later so you read it till the end.

For the uninitiated, it is the only restaurant of its kind which serves north-eastern cuisine from the seven sisters of our country and more! If you are a meat lover, then you are in for a treat. And if you are not, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Not only do they use exclusive herbs from the region, they also source their vegetables from there. Soon it gets validated as the aroma of what you’ve ordered wafts towards you. By the look of it, I get curious with the simplistic presentation and can’t wait to dig in. It’s the same ingredients like mushroom, onions or any other vegetable, but the taste has a stark difference and so in its texture. A little spicy in a very novel way. Then looking at the red Mizo Rice along with bamboo curry which were both absolutely new to me. My tongue does a little dance inside! A mouthful of new flavours and textures – little earthy and fuller perhaps, that manifests only when the contents have been grown in a place where our rest of day-to-day food doesn’t. You just know its special in some way.

I wish I knew more about where my local Safal guy gets his vegetables from. And we wondered how as a kid we had access to so many varieties of vegetables alone. My friend reminisced how he knew and had about 21 varieties of Spinach itself. I realised how less we know about our food these days, when it’s grown, where it comes from. As no produce is as natural as it used to be or supposed to be and is gradually resembling closer to an industrial product, thanks to the genetically modified seeds.

However, this place right here, makes an effort towards keeping the authenticity alive, and that makes all the difference. A lot like Slow Food Movement where the focus is on knowing what you are eating, finding out where it comes from and how it affects the environment. The entire process of the meal then becomes a lot more lively and fiery in a good way. You become a part of the god’s gift that this place literally means and feel it. With the writer of God of Small Things from god’s own country smiling at me as she finishes her meal and leaves.. it does become a situation like.. ‘O my god!’