Yappy -by I

I never thought I’d ever warm up to Sushi. Or anything remotely Japanese ever! My earliest memory of having it is of the corner Sushi bar down the road to the DLR station off South Quays, when I’d just accompanied a colleague on a lunch break. Then I swallowed it all thinking how bland it was. But then I remember I couldn’t own up how uninitiated I felt even with my eyes welling up for the strong taste of Wasabi and soy. Well.. that was me then. I thought Sushi is not for the faint hearted.

Fast forward to the present. Even though it can be an acquired taste. With this raging introduction of the vegetarian Sushi in the recent times, it doesn’t have to be that daunting anymore. Once ventured into its hard not to be addicted, and leaves you craving for more. My rendezvous with it has only gone from good to great. The first time I really fell in love with Sushi was at Teppan Sushi bar in Bangalore. I have to say that was what made me raring to go and look further to see what Japanese cuisine has in store for a vegetarian like moi! Another sushi-bar worth a mention here is the Kylin closer home. OK. Now that am all warmed up, lets proceed to the main topic of this blog.

A visit to Guppy by Ai was much-anticipated since my arrival here in Delhi. Good things take time. So one fine evening, I drove down all the way and found it after few rounds of Khanna market, only to realise that it was so easy to miss the first time. Located as a part of an old style mall, it has that old world charm with no such pretensions. Until you enter from the lane side, and it takes only few seconds to be transformed before you begin to feel like you are in Japan. With frangipani tree in the courtyard, a bright color scheme as a backdrop, it gets better when you finally enter the dining.  Animé murals with the hint of a play school, you automatically get into the fun mode. And then there’s origami paper for you to try while you wait for the food! Now enough about the surroundings, I’ve got to get on the food. But I swear I was so taken aback by the place that it deserves all this mention. The kid in me was jumping to come out and play.

So while I was busy folding the paper to make a heart, my amuse-bouche appeared. It looked so pretty, I gulped it down without a thought, with some soup along with it. And bam! Everything else had to stop right there. The food had all my attention. I requested another portion, for I needed to spend some more time with it, devouring. I was almost coming to my seventh senses. Ha.. guess that!

Obviously from there we decided to settle for the tasting menu. How cruel to decide not to have something off this fantastic menu? At least I am not capable of such crime. So we let the Chef reel us in by doling out what later made me (dare i say) a very happy woman.

To start with I’ve had vegetarian Maki before but a vegetarian Nigiri, Sashimi, and Temaki was a first! For once I thought absolute justice has been done to me. Usually the non-vegetarians always have more options to try, that I envy. Here there was variety and how. Absolutely loved the bell pepper and thin omlet sushi. That rolling definitely calls for some dexterity and talent. Did I mention about the fresh wasabi? It’s like a green stem that’s grated on shark skin.. how exquisite is that!

Then came the varied starters, which turned out a nice experiment with tofu, miso and some more brand new set of flavours bustling in my mouth. It was fairly building up my appetite towards main course. Now I like to play safe by being a vegetarian. But I thank the stars that day which made me try the Cod! Is it the god of fish or what? It definitely had a royal entry seething on a stone and tasted absolutely heavenly. Who’d believe it’s coming from me, a vegetarian? Well I have decided now to turn a pesceterian. I can’t afford to miss out on such oh-so-yummy delicacies anymore.

God.. the Black Cod blew my mind. I was on the seventh heaven after this. I did not want to get rid of it’s taste so soon. Nope not even for desserts. The charred- smoky flavour was something that had me enthralled. I was bordering delirium. I had to calm down.

So came the dessert platter with its tidbits, that is probably there just so people do calm down and come back to reality. You can’t have a high after another high. It could be maddening you know! No one endorses such danger.

Anyway I just couldn’t get over the scene around me. It subtly engulfed me to believe like I was lazing in a cafe in Nakano Ward, perhaps. It was easy to drift off and mull over Murakami. The restaurant had cast such a spell. A shot of Limoncillo, got me back to India.

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A-Z

I keep thinking what I’ve been doing with this food blog. I want this one to be like no other. Not just praising or ripping apart any restaurant or some chef.

It’s going to be more analytical in terms of where we as a community have reached in exploring the cuisine culture. Since, I keep comparing all the experiences with my past and benchmark anything I like with the best I’ve had. I’ve decided to make a souvenir of all those memories and post this:

A– Avocados, ground with garlic and olive oil or in soup or salad. Just for this fruit, I can go live in Mexico for a year.

B– Basil & Broccoli, fresh in a pizza or pasted in a soup, whichever form, the fresher the better. I wanna try the Basil pizza in Italy soon. By the way I am happy to announce that I now have it growing in my very own terrace.

C– Chickpeas- anytime, in any form. Caviar- the Beluga; tiny, homogenous, bursting in mouth one after another. Oh Churros starts from C too. The best is street side. Outside Tate Modern, during Spanish festivals. And Chocolate of course only if its Belgian or French. Swiss will do too, but they add too much milk!

D– Dumplings, delicate ones, with all kinds of mushrooms, the best ones I had was at Tamarai in Covent Garden, London- which is closed now. Yauatcha is a close match or perhaps even better.

E– Eggs, except when its raw, I can almost devour it any other form. Even better with some Endive, chopped onions n lime squeeze with rock salt n pepper sprinkles. Go Give it a try over boiled eggs.

F– Fenugreek to temper anything. Fajitas, made fresh and warm only.

G– Garlic in Guacamole. I know I mentioned Avocado before, but I had to repeat it. Thats how much I like this!

H– Honey, Im home! ’nuff said.

I– Ai.. ai… ai. Thats ‘love’ in japanese. Guppy by Ai my friends is all i can think of, may be coz right now am having the leftovers from my meal there last night.

J– Jams, homemade from either chillies, pepper or off beat vegetables, served with savoury pancakes,, Oh yeah.. you’ve gotta try these once!

K– Kafir Lime-leaf is an all time favourite. Kale is another one. And so is Khichdi, be it gujurati, punjabi, bihari or bengali style. All it needs is a dollop of butter and some tangy chutney n papad to go with it. Monsoons special meal- to be had hot and steaming.

L– Love, and lots of it. Nothing says it like LaDuree Macaroons!

M– Maple Walnut from Movenpick icecream. Its been over a decade i’d first tried it and still remains my favourite!

N– Nuts, even more if it’s peeled and candied a la caramel-ito.

O– Orange Juice- Oh so juicy with the bits. freshly squeezed, with no sugar or ice, best found in Goan breakfast places during winters.

P– Parathé, stuffed with gobhi/aloo/mooli/cheese/paneer/onion. Either all or exclusive, street side even better. Best from the streets of Ludhiana,Punjab.

Q– Quinoa or a Quiche- fruitty-nutty freshly baked out of oven on a rainy day in the midst of mountains.. yes!

R– Raspberries- frozen! Romanesco, in caesar salad. Ratatouille in Morocco is  still a dream.

S– Soyabeans with Spinach. Yes.. it can be quite a delish main course, obviously home-made.

T– Truffles of all kinds! Truffles’ Oil, Trifles, and Tangy Tamarind sprinkles of chutney can make any Tostadas tempting!

U– Upma, for the lack of a better ingredient/dish that I could think of. Made in some south-indian home.

V– Vanilla, the most expensive herb is a mind-blowing essence even when it’s in natural form in a pod.

W– W has a Wealth of Words that are my favourite. To start with Water of course; followed by Walnut, Watercress, and Watermelon.

X– Xinomavro Grapes that’s used to make red wine, which in turn along with some Sherry and Port Wine, makes my favourite drink: the Mülled Vino

Y– Yoghurt in any flavours after a meal is a good digestive for me.

Z– Zatar, perhaps with some Zucchini pancakes, or salad or within a croissant. Yum!

Voila! There you go. Am sure there’s at least one thing that you haven’t tried yet. I’d love to know what your favourite ingredients are. Do leave in comments if I ‘ve missed any star ingredient or dish that comes to your mind while you read this.

Now even BBC didn’t flaunt such a list of awesome ingredients. Please feel free to thank me in ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and ‘follows’. ❤