#mumbaifinelychopped

MOST RECENT

Good to be back home in between trips and where they get exactly how I like my scrambled eggs to be.
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Both Salt Water Cafe & La Folie in Bandra rock it when it comes to scrambled eggs. For those who feel that their orders looks different from mine in La Folie, this is not the ‘standard version’. I wanted a creamy scrambled egg with nothing added. Their three scrambled egg options have stuff in it. Wanted the egg to be the hero today and it sure was. Sometimes you just have to ask. Price was the same as their basic options.
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‘Let’s meet for lunch. At an Irani cafe. Near Lower Parel.’ Seemed like an impossible brief given that these are largely located in south Mumbai but then you don’t say no to Pritha Sen do you?

Jokes apart, I suddenly thought of going to Cafe Irani Chaii in Mahim and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with what followed. It was my first visit to this 4 year old family run restaurant and I’ve rarely felt as happy with visiting a ‘new’ place as I did here today. The place was all soul and it felt like I was home.
Could be because of the Parsi manager who said ‘congratulations’ when I told him I am married to a Parsi. Or the owner’s son whom I met on the way out. The family is a Muslim Irani family and he spoke about his visits to Iran and I told him that I lived there as a kid. I think I did hear some Bengali voices from the kitchen but I could be wrong.
The food was very home styled so for once I could ‘impart knowledge’ to Pritha. Payback for all the times I’ve picked on her brains.
The bill for an astonishing number of dishes was Rs 1,024 proving that while just 4 years old, the restaurant is as heritage ‘Irani’ as it gets in its spirit. ‪PS: I had two lunches today. Machhed mudo diye dal at home and then dhansak featured in the second one. Sums up my story.‬ #foodblogger #foodwriter #iranirestaurant #mumbaistories #mumbaifinelychopped

My latest blog post is about the people I met in Mumbai and the meals they fed me when I was new to the city which made it feel like home to me.

Please share your stories if like me, you too had migrated out of home and were made to feel at home in your new city by the people you met and the food they fed you. Would love to hear about them. The link is in the bio

https://www.finelychopped.net/2018/08/its-shared-meals-more-than-bricks-that.html

PS What you see in the picture are Russian kevabs and Parsi mutton kevabs. Why are they here? Click on the link to find out

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Went to Yauatcha Mumbai six years after my earlier visit to the restaurant. Was it the dim sum that won the day or the braised pork belly? Or both? And can pork belly be dim sum too?
Read the latest post on my blog to know more

Here’s the link and it’s in the bio:
https://www.finelychopped.net/2018/08/dim-sum-in-belly-yauatcha-mumbai.html?m=1

Would love to know if you have a point of view on the restaurant.

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Poonam paring my kaatla in the front.
Her sister, Sangeeta, the ilish at the back.
Their mom, Heera bai who started the shop 40 years back, the tyangra and pabda which I picked up for the missus.
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You will find some bangda, surmai and pomfret in my bajarer tholi (shopping bag) too. The local fishing season has started again from the first Poonam told me. ‘Kolis get impatient sitting at home,’ as she puts it. That means fresher sea fish is back in the market. .
A very ‘Bengali in Mumbai’ Sunday morning indeed. .
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I have grown up on chilli chicken in Kolkata. My mom used to make it. It was a must order when we went to local chinese restaurants too. Always on the bone. There was no ‘boneless chicken’ at home. In restaurants boneless was more expensive and hence not ordered. I later realised that on the bone was tastier. Once done, you chew the bones of course.
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I’ve made chilli chicken often but did it in the air fryer for the first time tonight and made it without oil.
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I marinated the chicken in a tablespoon each of soy and chilli sauce, garlic paste and a sprinkling of salt. Put in a foil and then in the air fryer for 20 min at 200 C. Then unwrapped the chicken and added chopped spring onions, split green chillies & lime juice and then back in the air fryer for 10 min at 100 C. Tasted super!
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As you know, I’ve tried to experiment with rice varieties that have a lower GI index, ever since I changed the way I eat, in a journey that I call #littlejackhornermeals .
Red rice (which I buy loose from a local grocer) has now become the mainstay of my diet and has replaced basmati in my life. I’ve never used it to make khichuri, the Bengali version of khichdi, till now though. Today I did so. Didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out delish and I wiped the plate clean. Chete poote, like we say back home.
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I skipped potatoes which are a must in khichuri but made it a one dish meal by adding cauliflower, spring onions, and the vegetable which might have broken the Internet when I added it to my pasta yesterday, karela! The proportion of moong dal to red rice was 1:1 and I cooked it in the pressure cooker for 20 min on simmer after 5 whistles on a high flame. And there was the customary drizzle of Jharna ghee at the end. .
We usually talk of Gobindo Bhog rice when it comes khichuri but today I remembered something which told me that this probably speaks of privilege. This was from when Kolkata would get flooded during my school days and the parar chheles (mohalla boys) would come to each house and collect rice and dal to make khichuri for those displaced in the neighbourhood. Each grain of rice was cherished and treasured then. Not questioned. .

1/8/18 Update: As a Parsi reader on FB, Khushnaz pointed out, this is more a curry while the ras is lighter and thinner in consistency.

While a lot has been written about the dhansak and its place in Parsi households, I feel that the margi na ras chawal (chicken curry and rice) deserves its share in the sun too.
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Every Parsi grandmom has her own recipe for the masala mix, a cornucopia of whole spices, chillies, crushed cashews and almonds and at times ground coconut too. My wife’s maternal grandmother, the late Manijeh Kerawala, used to send us boxes filled with her spice mix which she would fastidiously roast and pack for us. It never occurred to us to take down the recipe. Never struck us that mamma wouldn’t be with us one day.
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Thankfully our friend Rita Pastakia and her family cook, Manju, paid more attention to her father, the late Dadi Pastakia’s wizardry in the kitchen.
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Last Sunday she fed us the margi na ras which was his speciality and which my wife and her friends had apparently grown up on during their college days. I came late to the party (figuratively) but can say without an iota of doubt that Rita and Manju nailed it this Sunday. Has to be the best margi na ras I’ve had so far and I’ve had my fair share over the years. My fellow Bengalis would be happy to know the curry has alu (potatoes) too.
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Mutton kevabs, Russian kevabs (chicken, potato and cheese mix), margi na ras chawal ( Chicken curry with a crushed cashew based gravy and potatoes and rice). Parsi for Sundays.
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The missus and I caught up with some of her friends for lunch today. The father of one, the late Dadi Pastakia, used to cook for them and feed them this meal or versions of this everyday after college. His daughter, Rita, carried on the tradition today and brought over food cooked as per her father’s recipes and in the generous quantities that he’d approve of. We met at the house of Perin Aunty, the sister of the late Jamshed Uncle, who was a dear friend of Dadi’s and who was very fond of the group too. Some today were from the original gang and some like me fortunate to have became part of it over the years.
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The two gentlemen must have been smiling upstairs to see us all together, creating new memories soaked in classic flavours and unbridled love, warmth and lots of good cheer.
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The rava (semolina) dosa is a tricky one to make in my opinion. Few get it right in Mumbai barring vintage places such as Swagat at Fort and the Matunga joints I guess. .
I’ve never had a well made one in Bandra. Till today that is. I just had a superbly textured one at Madras Diaries.
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If you know what to order here and if the airconditioned section is open (it isn’t always) then you are sorted. .
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What are the #LittleJackHornerMeals all about you asked?
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It’s a name that I have given to the dishes that I cook up after I decided to overhaul the way I eat and yet eat well within the ambit of the ingredients and produce I’ve been told to stick to as far as possible. I have really enjoyed the window of creativity that it has opened for me. .
Today I spotted the mortar and pestle which I had once lugged all the way from Chiang Mai and had then put it into a cupboard after using it for a bit. We’d taken it out for a shoot recently.
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I cleaned it and sautéed some finely red bell peppers, a garlic clove, and a few almonds in olive oil and pounded this together in the mortar. Then added it to hung curd with a pinch of pink salt and dukkah and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Layered it on crisp sourdough (bought from La Folie yesterday) toast. To this I added roughly chopped boiled egg whites and drizzled some more EVOO on top. .
Took a bite and like little Jack Horner in the nursery rhyme said ‘what a good boy am I.’
The plate was a gift from @euphorhea a while back and she’s just begun retailing her hand painted plates. It’s a bit worse for the wear after being in the dish washer because of the hot water so better to hand wash it.
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Flavours from across the country joined me for lunch today.
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The beans (called gawar here) were sautéed in kalo jeere (Nigella seeds), turmeric & salt, like my mother would back in Kolkata. The dal is toor dal, has kokum and garlic in it and was made in a sort of local Maharashtrian style by our cook Banu using her recipe. The rotis are bajra (millet) ones with a bit of ghee added in. I am told bajra is not easy to digest so I limit it to once a week now. I sprinkled some of the garlic, chilli & gram chutney that I bought from Mangalore on the dahi (curd).
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Was too hungry to clean up the rim of the bowl for the pic. I left the making of lunch to her as our cook Banu had come to work. When I cook, I make less elaborate one dish meals!
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On a separate note, when working with brands I do get into discussions on the styling of pics at times. Yes, I prefer to keep it simple but I do realise that a professional context could require more work done on the pics. At the end, dialogue is key to finding a solution and as long as one comes up with something one is happy with it, it’s all good.
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Called in for something referred to as a ‘Bengali bento box’ on the menu from Oh! Calcutta, Khar, through Swiggy last night.
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Given that a Bengali meal is had in courses, this is a good option for the solo diner. Specially one who was done with being in the kitchen for the day. Bhojohori Manna was the first a la carte Bengali place to offer a thala in Mumbai I think. That was veg and one could add non-veg dishes of ones choice with it if one wanted. Sort of like it is in the pice hotels of Kolkata. These are welcome concepts indeed.
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At a personal level, it was a bit too much of bhaaja bhuji (fried) stuff for me but about three months or more of eating differently would have its effect I guess and frankly the idea tempted me. Apart from green chilli mixed veg, the other stuff ... mochar chop, luchi, alur dom, bhaat dal alu bhaaja and chutney were very nice and the payesh pleasantly not over sweetened. My favourite was the soft chhanar paturi. There was a koraishootir dhokar dalna as well. There’s us a non veg option too but I didn’t want to have chicken given we have it so often and am guessing the fish fry in it would be the basa. I think two light eaters can share this. I don’t know if you get this in the restaurant.
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A good Parsi would scoff at the idea of a wholewheat8 burger bun I know but at least the cutles (named after the lacy egg batter formation) were made with mutton (goat meat) by our friend Veera and deserves its place in the sun.
I had packed some from dinner and sandwiched it in buns from The Bakers Dozen for breakfast today.

Easily the best I’ve ever had!

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A meal which had been years in planning came to life last night.
One of the first friends that I had made in Mumbai when I moved in here more than twenty years back and who is also one of the first Parsis that I have known in my life, Veera Bhacka, had for long promised me to feed me dhansak. The problem is that she no longer lives in Mumbai so the legend of her dhansak kept growing in our Whatsapp discussions without my being able to taste it.

Last night the stars aligned themselves and we went over to meet her and her family AND her dhansak at her mom’s place.

The dhansak was truly phenomenal and had had the missus (I’ll travel anywhere for dhansak) and doffing our hats in delight and respect.
Turned out that Veera had a few more surprises up her sleeves. We not only got a lovely dhansak but possibly had the best mutton cutles that I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many, and an outstanding prawn patia, again the best I’ve ever had.

Thank you so much Veera and please thank Aunty, Rhea and Kaizad for their wonderful hospitality. See you soon.
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70 per cent dark is what they promised. On tasting I found it to be 150 per cent on taste and picked up a couple of cups for home.
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If I am going to have a dessert then it better be worth it and the dark chocolate gelato at Coppetto, Bandra, sure was!
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Millet based dishes is something I seek out these days and the ragi dosa at Madras Diaries hit the spot this evening. My specifications are: medium crispy and with finely chopped onions inside to balance the slight bitterness of ragi. A tip that I learnt from chef Gopi.
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A gentleman with his family walked in just as my dosa arrived. He came up to say hi. Turned out he is a reader of my blog and had come to the restaurant basis my recommendations. That put me under pressure. My dosa was nice though I got the sambar changed as that was lukewarm and this wet weather called for a piping hot one. Hope they were happy with their order!
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‪No. Not saag chicken.
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This is ‘air fried’ chicken with salt and a few drops of olive oil and then added the last of the home made pesto (basil, garlic, EVOO, toasted walnuts, salt) from fridge to it. Paired it with black rice.‬ ‪Worked well! ‬ #foodblogger #foodie #foodwriter #yum #food #foodphotos #l#finelychopped #finelychoppedkitchen #finelychoppedrecipes ##mumbaifinelychopped #finelychoppedblog #dinner #airfryer #shotoniphone7plus #chicken #homecooking #platesoffinelychopped #pesto #airfyer

I realised that I end up ordering a Goila Butter Chicken in a near Pavlovian response each time Saransh puts a picture of it on his social media feed.
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Coincidentally the last time was when he did a pop up at The Press Club and this time was after he was a guest judge in Masterchef Australia (phew!). Given that folks like George, Matt and Gary plate his food now made me nervous while clicking and posting this, but ‘kindly adjust’ as we say here.
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A true example of one’s work being the best ambassador of ones brand. Keep it up Saransh!
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A few practical points, I ordered it on Zomato instead of Swiggy and got a good discount. Found a lesser proportion of leg pieces that before and that’s a bit sad. The rumali is a wholewheat one and stayed very well even when delivered home in the rains. The portion of chicken was twice of what you see in the pic and is enough for two. What you don’t see is that I had wiped the plate clean at the end and had a bit more of the curry too.
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Realised that my pain (back for now) is not going anywhere and while the ham and cheese croissant that I had at La Folie last evening & the creamy scrambled eggs at Salt Water Cafe that morning were lovely, it was time to get back to my #LittleJackHornerMeals .
Wholewheat burger buns from The Bakers Dozen (a bit larger & drier than normal), boiled egg whites and a hung curd dip that I made with shredded mint leaves, dukkah, black pepper, walnuts, sunflower seeds and extra virgin olive oil. The best part is that it tastes AND feels good too.
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