Category Archives: Oriental

>Just another night in the kitchen

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Valentine’s night dinner. Special? Well we enjoyed it
 
Come Valentine’s and newspapers would be full of ads on expensive restaurant meals. You need time and/ or money for that. Difficult to have both in the expensive and frenetically paced city of Mumbai.
Then there would be articles on how guys can please their women. ‘Surprise her by entering the kitchen and cooking a dish’, is a favoured option. Fry an egg. It’s not that difficult. Toast bread, make her a cup of coffee. Buy a ready-made curry mix and make chicken. Assemble a pizza. 
Problem is that some of us don’t have it that easy. Cooking dinner is not that a big deal in our worlds. Nor is it rare. We have to think of other gifts.
I came home from work and went to the gym. Seemed like folks like John A and I were working out this Valentine’s night while the restaurants at Bandra were filling up and candles were being lit. I caught a bit of Master Chef USA while on the treadmill. It was almost as melodramatic as Master Chef Akshay Kumar. A damp squib after Master Chef Australia at this point.
I came back and hit the kitchen. I looked at the gifts which folks like Soma, Ranjit and Manisha gave me. Gifts which made me feel like Julie in the movie Julie & Julia. Her friends and readers used to send her ingredients too.
Sauces from Ranjit’s hamper
The third of Soma’s assortment of meats. Michigan to Calcutta to Mumbai

Cookies from K after much nagging on my part

I chose the last of the three meats that Soma, Arijit and their cat Ms Moota sent for us from Michigan via Calcutta. American salami. The best of a bouquet of great meats according to Kainaz. Tasted two of the sauces that Ranjit gave me in the birthday hamper. Chilli Oil & Teriyaki Barbecue. K and I chatted as I peeled and sliced carrots, spring onions, chillies and ginger. Pounded some garlic in the mortar and pestle. Took pictures with my Blackberry. K said I should start a section called Blackberry Boys for this. Then I fired up my new Chinese wok and another sauce pan simultaneously.
Dinner? Squids tossed in teriyaki barbecue sauce, seasoned with fresh ginger, red chillies and spring onions. American salami hakka noodles, with crunchy vegetables, seasoned with crushed garlic, a squeeze of lime  and oodles of chilli oil. Nothing elaborate.Pu together in fifteen minutes or so.
Finished off with a shared cookie from the box of Pepperidge Cookies that K got for me.

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Filed under Anniversaries, Blackberry Boys, customs, Finely Chopped Knights, Oriental

>Oriental Indulgence. Golden Dragon, The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai

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We were at a loss on where to close my birthday eating with. I was treating but K left the choice of place and cuisine to me. Sancho’s where we ate lunch had set a really high standard. Mexican cuisine was reasonably new to my palate. I wanted more. Let this birthday be a day of discoveries. There were a couple of French restaurants/ cafes which have opened in Mumbai recently. The feedback on them ranged from ambivalent to vitriolic after I asked around on twitter. Then K pointed me to my favourite cuisine. Chinese. She suggested the hallowed Golden Dragon of the Taj. Seemed like a good choice. Plus Ranjit, who had carefully hand picked a birthday gift hamper of the choicest condiments, said that Golden Dragon is good on Sichuan cuisine. While Mumbai is big on red coloured dishes called Schezwan, you can rarely get authentic Sichuan pepper based dishes outside of a five star here. We were on a relaxed budget that night.
We took a cab and went as we were told there was no valet parking. Unlike the ITC Grand Maratha or Thai Pavilion (Amba’s anniversary story), you don’t get a cake or free dessert at the Golden Dragon even if you suggestively say ‘birthday’ while booking. No free cabbage or khimchi either and we were a bit hungry.
The restaurant was brightly lit and the food blogger in me got excited. Good Photos. Most high end places at Mumbai are so dark. Almost as if they are embarrassed of the food they serve. No such problems here. The decor was reminiscent of a dining room of cruises in Agatha Christie murder movies. Grand, yet understated. Not too big. Sitting at a table across was a Parsi family who seemed quite at home here.


K chose a mocktail which was described as a ‘melted tiramisu’. She completely agreed with this. Made it a point to tell me that I should write that she disagreed with my description of ‘like cold coffee’. She knocked over a bit of her drink in her excitement. The folks at the Golden Dragon immediately replenished it. My Long Island Ice Tea was well made too.
K sips on her tiramisu

They were at their Candies
We had a fairly experienced gentleman named Elvis taking our order. He had a point of view on things. He rejected my order of ‘char siew’. Said it would be too sweet unless we wanted it that way. Thankfully approved of our next option. Sliced pork, bacon and string beans. This was a fantastic dish. The pork had a good lineage. The ham tender and yet salty like soft hearted sailor. The string beans extremely fresh and bouncy. We quite enjoyed the crunchy beans and didn’t fish it out as we normally do with vegetables that come with meat. An interesting balance of the innocence of greens and the sins of red meat. Almost like a Playboy Centrefold in a Nun’s habit.
I voluntarily finished the greens
 
Our other order of lobsters in pickle with ginger was poetic to say the least. The lobsters were demure and tender and were married harmoniously to the sharp and passionate pickles and ginger. An amazing combination of very pleasant, succulent bites punctuated by the odd zest of pickles. Both dishes were stellar and rose to the occasion.
Lobsters
 
We had this with a Sichuan vegetable noodles that Elvis recommended. This was off the menu. He had a strong point of view on this. I had visions of ghastly red noodles in my mind but went ahead with his recommendation. My first reaction when the noodles came was “it looks like something I would have cooked”. And I mean this is as a compliment. There was a certain fluffy airiness about the noodles which made you fall in love with them.Then there were the bites of fresh fiery Sichuan peppers which made you realised that this cherubic dish had a few pranks up its sleeve.
The food was really grand up to this point. My only grouse was that they got the dishes  immediately after the drinks which was a bit sad. What if we didn’t want to run out in twenty minutes after paying a good part of a cost of a night’s stay at the hotel? They should have at least asked if wanted the food along with the drinks instead of plonking it down all together.
The noodles wasn’t enough and I thought I’d go for a fried rice. They had burnt garlic rice and a rice with prawns, roast pork, chicken. After much silent callisthenics I managed to attract a waiter. Not Elvis though. This guy refused to give me a burnt garlic rice with roast pork. Apparently their chefs are too mechanised to be able to customise.  Which, for a very expensive place, was difficult to digest. Especially for someone who often thinks on his feet as he cooks. I went for an egg fried rice which was quite ordinary, not well flavoured and didn’t even seem very authentic to me. The rice was more Mr Chows than Taj IMHO.

Elvis later came and told us that we should have gone for the full blown pork, prawn ,chicken rice. Probably would have if he was taking our order and not the Storm Trooper.

Still, I must say that we ate a really grand dinner. Left me a lot happier than our meals at San Qi at Four Seasons and the one at the China House, Chinese place at the Santa Cruz Hyatt, did. And I was glad that K, who is not too fond of Chinese, or Mexican, liked both the meals. I was treating after all.
The price? I won’t mention that here as that would surely lead to an income tax raid at my place. Let’s say that it cost me as much as two night’s stay at a four star at Penang cost me. Remember, we didn’t drink too much. No desserts. No starters. But then you can’t expect ‘cheap’ when you go to THE Taj.

So would I prefer the Golden Dragon to a couple of nights at Penang and its Cafe 78? You should know me well enough by now.

Dreaming of the Orient. Of Georgetown. Of Cafe 78

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Filed under Colaba Mon Ami, Fine dining, Mumbai highs, Oriental, South Mumbai, Woes

>An authentic Thai green curry recipe & Chiang Mai inspired sprouts with no carbon footprints

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It’s been almost a week since I lost wrote. That’s not happened in a while. But my much sobbed about relocation from Fort happened. I now work in the dust bowls of suburban Mumbai. The Knife has lost his Mojo. The only notable food event this week was our friend’s wedding. But then you have eaten at one good Parsi or Bawa wedding and you have more or less covered it all. 

So here’s finally a post. Even if it’s about something I cooked last year. On new year’s eve.

I dipped into Simon Majumdar’s Eat My Globe once again last night. Read the chapters on Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong. Food blogger turned published author turned TV celebrity and yet he earnestly answers my mails to him. Perhaps I should learn from him and shouldn’t be so constipated about adding people as ‘friends’ on Facebook.

I opened the chapter on Bangkok and Thailand. Simon wrote about how he was awed by the curries there which were so different from ‘the goop’ he apparently got at London in the name of Thai curries.

Well, it’s pretty much the same here at Mumbai. You get Thai food in a number of restaurants here. Most get the curries wrong. I could say this with reasonable authority after I went to Thailand way back in 2005. I’d gone there in ’78 too but wasn’t a food blogger then. I went to Thailand again in 2010 and hopped over to Chiang Mai after Bangkok. I had a number of Thai curries there. Attended a cooking class at the Asia Scenic Cooking School at Thailand. Learnt to cook curries too.

The trip confirmed my belief on what is wrong with most Thai curries in Mumbai.

Well let’s take green curries. The colour of the curry is pale green and not bright fluorescent green. There are no carrots in Thai curries. Nor broccoli. Thai curries are seasoned with fish sauce. I doubt if most of the restaurants here do that. And the consistency of the curry is a lot thinner than what we get here. Interestingly, the only difference between red and green curry is that mix of the former uses red chillies while the latter uses green. I made a red curry at the cooking class as we find it difficult to get a good red curry at Mumbai. Thai Pavilion, Thai Baan and Candies at least get the green curry right to varying degrees.

I made the green curry base up this time. Used natural ingredients the way they showed us in the cooking class. The way our grannies once cooked. I’d picked up a mortar and pestle from Chiang Mai and used that. You could use a mixer grinder too. The fragrance of raw spices and herbs were maddeningly nostalgic. Redolent of a golden era. The best thing is that I got every single ingredient at Bandra’s Pali Market at Mumbai. Next lane to where we live. So nothing, barring the fish sauce that was imported, or increased the carbon footprint. The only thing that I didn’t get were the golf ball sized light green coloured egg plants that they used at Chiang Mai. Still I am pretty sure that a Thai grandmom would have approved of the curry that I cooked.

So here’s the recipe for Thai green curry. Not mine really. It’s from the Asia Scenic School.

  • Green curry mix: Teaspoon of coriander seeds. A stalk of lemon grass. Couple of kafir lime leaves. 1/2 an inch piece each of galangal and turmeric. A teaspoon of peeled garlic pods. 1 teaspoon chopped onions.  4.5 green chillies. Deseeded if you can’t handle heat. Red chillies instead if you want to make a red curry. Now, if you are using a mortar and pestle then put each of these ingredients sequentially, pound and put the next one and so on. The trick is to get the dry ones in first. The lemon grass stalks are the most stubborn. This is the most time and energy consuming phase of the dish. But the magical aromas make it all worth it. I guess it becomes a one step, push button process if you use a mixer grinder.

Cook:

  • Heat a bit of oil in a pan
  • Add 3,4 tablespoons of coconut milk. Bring it to a boil.
  • Add the curry mix. Stir.
  • Add meat. I used boneless chicken. Pork or beef would be great too. Add some chopped shitake/ portabella mushrooms. The egg plants would have gone in here. Stir till the meat looks cooked.
  • Add 200 ml of coconut milk. Add some plain cow’s milk to thin the mix.
  • Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. This substitutes salt. Add some sugar. The Thai’s add palm sugar
  • Bring the sauce to a boil
  • Reduce the flame. Add the tiny round green Thai brinjals, some basil leaves and kafir lime leaves
  • Let this simmer for ten minutes

Eat with steamed rice.

 

Now there’s one more thing that I picked up at Chiang Mai. The way they served a crunchy bean sprouts side with curries and soups. A fantastic combination of textures with noodles or rice forming the third element. I didn’t have the recipe for this. But I made a sprouts mix on the side which tasted of Chaing Mai and enthralled all those who tried it. It’s pretty simple really

  • Put sprouts in a bowl. I got these from Pali Market, Bandra
  • Add some crushed peanuts to this. Ideally crushed in a Chiangwill brag about her
  • Add some split bird’e eye chilli, finely chopped galangal and shreds of kafir lime leaves
  • Add fish sauce and palm sugar (I used honey)
  • Stir and you will get a nice crunchy salad which you can eat with your curry and rice. I can vouch for this combination

 So how was your week in food?

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Filed under I love Bandra, Oriental, Recipes

>The secret to firm noodles

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Scarlett: How come my noodles are never so firm & separate? They always end up in a soggy, gloopy mass 😦



Possibly because you don’t have a spouse who walked out of the house when you served her soggy noodles. The next day I went to a thelawallah (noodle cart guy) outside my office at Nariman Point where I used to work then. The guys at the cart in their vests and loongis (Indian sarongs) were perplexed to see the earnest thin young executive in white pinstripes and black trousers come up to them and ask them about the secret to firm noodles. Well, whatever they said worked. Noodles never turned out to be soggy after that. There were no more noodle related walkouts.

The trick is to put the noodles in boiling water and take them out the moment the moment the noodles lose their stiffness. You can check this with a fork. Err on the side of being uncooked to be on the safe side. Noodles shouldn’t be in the boiling water for more than 2-3 minutes

Post draining, rinse under cold water and add a bit of oil to make it foolproof and separate with a fork. I don’t add oil at this stage though.

Should work.

@MonikaManchanda was tweeting today on cooking tips. Check for the hashtag #CookingTips Or go to her blog post on Sin-A-Mon. There is a tip on pasta which is on similar lines. Pasta will take more time than noodles of course. 

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Filed under Dear Uncle Knife, Oriental, Recipes

>Drawing Boardain into the drawing room with a Thai green curry leftovers meets Pad Thai experiment

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Saw Anthony Bourdain on TV after ages tonight. He was at Chile. As I heard him talk about his ‘dreams of fields with pork scented flowers’, I said a quite thank you to him for unknowingly inspiring me to start writing.

Photo credit: http://kyl.cl/anthony-bourdain-episodio-en-chile-el-13-de-julio/

We were faced with tons of leftovers from the NYE dinner at home. We had Thai green curry one day but I had added an excess of chicken and we couldn’t finish the meat. Pork spares for dinner. Still more to go. Shammi kebabs for lunch. More to go.

Then thought of putting the leftover chicken from the green curry to some use. ‘Let their sacrifice not go in vain’ and all that kind of thing.

Memories of a Thai curry flavoured meat dish at either Koh or Thai Pavilion, reliving the introduction to Pad Thai Noodles at the Asia Scenic cooking class at Chiang Mai, visions of the bottle fish sauce nestled in the fridge. There was something cooking in there.

Oil heated in a wok, onion rings, chopped garlic and galangal added in. When done, finely chopped chicken and shitake mushrooms, from what was once Thai Green curry, pushed. The curry long gone, the memories still green.

The meat stirred and pushed aside with a ladle, as they showed us in the cooking class, to a corner of the pan. Camera on one side. Popped in the egg. Added the boiled Chinese Hakka noodles. The missus like them flat. And walks out if they are soggy. Fold in the egg. Add a dollop of oyster sauce on the noodles and then pour in fish sauce like wads of notes over a Bombay Bar Dancer. Toss, heave, click photos, mix, add chopped red bell pepper, take a portion out for photography, put back into the pan for a final flourish, plate and eat.

The green curry flavour was subtle. The fried garlic added warmth. Galangal a very fresh and petite sweetness of the Orient. The shitake mushrooms exuded tastes of milk and cream, elegant yet alluring. Our vagabond outfit had come together well.

Always pays to go by your instincts. You might even be joined by The Master. Albeit on TV.

But then Bourdain could never resist the Orient could he?

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Filed under Oriental, photo blogs, Recipes

>Nigella meets Kylie. Pork spare ribs in Soy ginger honey

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Note: Recipe at the end followed by some sensuous photos

Confession time. For all my love of pork, I had cooked pork only twice before this. I am not counting cold cuts with which I do some fairly wicked noodles and pastas. But pork in its purest form has been a disaster zone. It just wouldn’t open up to me. I tried to make vindaloo in the early years of my cooking and our marriage. The blessed meat wouldn’t cook despite two or three attempts. I never tried to cook pork again. That was about nine years ago. Then a year or so back I tried to make Goan sausage chilli fry. Something K makes with aplomb. Again it didn’t cook properly. Pork just didn’t speak to me!

A friend was coming over on Friday night. K suggested calling from Kakori House. But I had a plan. I wanted to give char siew, the Chinese dish that I fell in love with in KL, a shot. I found this recipe at Rasa Malaysia’s. Seemed an easy enough one. Except that we don’t have an oven in our house. I still don’t know why. We didn’t have skewers either. But I had a dream. Microwave. Pan sear. I had a plan to improvise. I called Jude’s, Meghna, Mark’s and Joseph’s in the evening. Cold storages in Bandra. They all promised me pork belly the next day! Now making char sieu without pork belly would be like making Tandoori Chicken with chicken liver.

But by then there was piggy in my mind. So I reached home and walked into Meghna’s at Pali Market and picked up half a kilo of spare ribs. Mr Bajaj of Meghna’s told me tat they don’t keep pork belly everyday as many avoid it due to its fatty content. Strange. I bought the spares only after I saw that they had a layer of fat.

I didn’t have a recipe but I got the idea of the marinade from the start of Rasa’s char siew recipe. The idea of microwaving from my friend Kirti who had served us lovely spares and told us that they cooked well in the micro. I texted him and soon the answer came, ’12 minutes’.

I returned from work, shopped at Pali Market and came home. The plan was to make a Pad Thai noodles. Except that K doesn’t like flat noodles too much. So I risked a Sino Siamese confrontation by planning to make a Pad Thai with Hakka noodles. I chopped everything, boiled the noodles. Noodles need to be made just before eating. Was a breeze when I cooked it as 1.30 PM after going to a gym and after a long chat with Jack. Here’s the original Pad Thai recipe.

Getting back to the spares, I decided to make the marinade, dunk the pork in, squeeze in half an hour in the gym and shower and be ready for our guest. I microwaved the marinade for a couple of minutes going by the Rasa Malaysia theme of reducing the marinade. I got excited as I saw the marinade caramelise. Then I slid in the spares. It was orgasmic. Had the makings of a, excuse me ladies, an effing w@# dream.

Think seduction. Decadence. Indulgence. Titillation. Gay abandon. The end of innocence. ‘The summer of 42’. Think of egg whites streaming through stretched fingers with the yolk bobbing on palms. Red juicy steak being sliced. Sour cream, licked, smeared on the lips. Chocolates bars from the fridge nibbled on with a ‘come hither’ smile as the credits flash by. Think of every forbidden pleasure. Think of ramming into the TV on the treadmill as you single mindedly chased the promises on the TV screen. That’s the sort of primordial feelings that the sight of spare ribs sinking into their Oriental bed evoked.

Photo credit: http://www.recommended.co.nz/books/feast-food-celebrates-life/27/137

So without much ado, here is the lazy man’s, one vessel, sacrilegious but convenient, microwave (!) recipe for Pork Spare Ribs:

I can’t think of Oriental spare rib recipes without honey. But K doesn’t like sweet spare rib sauces. So I tempered it with soy and garlic. Memories of Kylie egging me on

Photo credit: http://insidecuisine.com/2010/10/17/2010-world-chef-showcase-sydney/

  • Marinade: 4 tablespoons of dark soy sauce (the salt come from this), 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of slivers of fresh ginger, 3,4 pieces of star aniseed (Rs 10 for 10 g at Vijay Stores, Pali Naka, Bandra), 2.5 tablespoons of Thai sweet chilli sauce (any chilly sauce would do), 1 teaspoon of crushed black pepper powder
  • Put this in a microwave dish and switch on the microwave for 2 minutes. The marinade will thicken and caramelise. 
  • Slide in the spare ribs and place them one beside each other. Try to marinade this as long as possible. I managed about 3 hours in the fridge.
  • COOK: Put it in the micro. Switch it on for 15 minutes. Post which you’ll see the fat begin to sizzle
  • Switch it one for another ten minutes before eating. Total of 25 in versus the 12 minutes which Kirti said. But remember, I was scarred by earlier memories of the vindaloo that refused to cook. 
  • Garnish with some fresh ginger and red bird’s eye chillies
  • Closing thoughts: The sauce was really delectable and had infused into the meat. The fat was cooked just right and slithered down your mouth with each bite. The meat was not chewy but had shrunk a bit compared to restaurant spare ribs. Remember we hadn’t used any tenderisers.

I guess that this was the dish that put the ghost of the vindaloo to rest after almost a decade. And in a push button recipe. Just the sort of cooking that I like. Paired pretty well with the Hakka Pad Thai too.

These were my most satisfying set of food photographs. Inspired and influenced by the Jyotika Purwar school of photography. But then, rarely do you get a swim suit model as luscious as pork spare ribs. 

UPDATE: Finishing on a flame.

I made this again on NY eve. This time microwaved the pork with the marinade for ten minutes. Transferred the contents to a saucepan. Kept it over a slow flame till the sauce dried up. The end result was a lot more juicy and succulent. 

Crushed peanuts for Pad Thai
Pad Thai: Thai at heart, Chinese in form
Putting a nine year old ghost to bed

 Attempt 2: finishing on a saucepan

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Filed under Bandra Bites, Lazy cooking, Oriental, Recipes

>Sweet Dreams … Cafe Universal, Mumbai

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We met our landlord (Ll) and real estate agent (A) this morning. Both Goans. It was that time of the year. The bane of every tenant’s life. This is how the conversation went.

LL: I just went to Goa. Had some very bad chili fry there. It’s too crowded right now. My co passenger paid Rs 24,000 for his flight ticket
A: It is so difficult to get good chili fry
The wife: Martin’s is good for Goan
LL &amp A: big smile
Me: I like Snow Flake too
LL: But how did you find the service? Last time I went it was in shambles
Me: Well, it seemed like some-one’s house. Quiet and empty.
LL: Exactly. The emptiness put me off. D’Sousa used to be good
The Wife: D’sousaaaaaa! my dad used to eat there before he was married. I thought he had got the name wrong as I never saw it myself
LL: City Kitchen was good too
Me: I went there the other day. It has closed down
LL: Yes, the owner is a stupid woman. She apparently closed the place down for renovation..told the workers who had worked there for 35 years that she would call them when done…sold the place off…and didn’t pay them
LL & A sighed
The Wife: we love the steak and onion fry at Martins
A: (smiling again) My wife and I book nine steaks when we go there as they get over
LL: And the place has remained the same. The owner is crashed out. His father used to sit there before. Same spot. With a glass of country liquor
A: You don’t get good steaks anywhere. At the most, that Gondola place near your house. Kobes
LL: Kobes is all crap, bullshit and hype
Me: Mondegar’s has good steaks
A (much to my surprise) Where is Mondegars? New place?
Me: Mondy’s is a classic
A: Now where is this Mondy’s
LL: It is the same. Short form. It is in the first lane after Regal
A: The Baghdadi lane?
LL: No. No the one before
A: (suddenly)….er, I think this way we will only talk of food

And then our discussions of commerce began. I got a call from the A later in the afternoon

A: Kalyan, sorry to call you. This is not about the rent. Where is this place Mondegars again?

Well, welcome to my world.

(A lot of the restaurant gossip above would be hearsay and probably not all true…so no defamation suits please. The gossip here is not that of the blogger’s.)

Actually we did go in search of City Light the other day. We walked down Fort on a wet afternoon. Down Bora Bazar. Towards GPO. And then Fort Market. Past old buildings, big roads, a glimpse of VT, approaching Ballard Estate…in search of City Kitchen. A kind avuncular gentleman with white beard at a Muslim restaurant told us that City Kitchen had shut down.

So we strolled into a place called  Universal Cafe   An old building from the British era. Stained glass windows which proclaimed that it was established in 1921. The place looked smart and well maintained. High ceilings. Creaking fans. Irani Cafe tables. Wooden sofa/ bench booths. Smartly painted. Aged yet graceful like the late Maharani Gayatri Devi.

The air was languorous, lazy. Execs in white shirts, ties and trousers, young couples taking a break from work… pitchers of beer. Not the sort of place to walk into if you have to get back to fill in hours in your time sheet.

It was an Irani restaurant. The menu ranged from steaks to OMG (‘world’s’ biggest burger’), Chinese, Dhansak and a couple of Irani dishes that I had never heard of. I didn’t feel like experimenting. So we went for Chinese.

‘Beef chilly fry’ said my lunch mate. This is the landmark dish of Leopold’s. Seemed like blasphemy to order it here. The beef chilli turned out to be quite different at Universal. I think that don’t approve of cow slaughter at Leo’s and don’t encourage eating beef. The beef chili is inedible at Leopolds. Yet it holds you in its spell. You order it though you know it won’t be good … and then curse it.

The beef chilly at Cafe Universal on the other hand was well flavoured and suitably tender…edible of course, made you happy and satisfied, like, er, a cow chewing cud.

For the mains we went for pepper prawns. Guided by our knowledgeable waiter. Spicy. Juicy. Hot. China meets Yana Gupta. The mixed fried rice was well flavoured, had a good mouth feel. As my lunch mate said, “Don’t know if its the beer but I am actually beginning to like the rice too”.

Cafe Universal is now synonymous with lazy afternoons in my mind. This was a place where time had fallen asleep. And urged you to doze too.

And here’s Kurush Dalal on the Finely Chopped Facebook page on the history of Cafe Universal:

  • Kurush F Dalal

    cafe universal was a typical irani restaurant famous for its chai, bun maska, omlette and kheema …. then came the end of the honeymoon (around 1975)and the dockworkers and lay people began to find other alternatives like the udipi … alongside the rising sun of south indian food was the twilight of the irani cafe …. universal rose to the challenge by transforming into a beer bar and started a very good 2nd innings unlike many a compatriot who clung on to the ‘chai-bun maska’ and fell by the wayside.


    universal was a ‘cheap’ place to score a beer with a few basic snacks … soon it had a regular clientele then suddenly 5 to 10 yrs before glasnost and perestroika eastern europe and the ussr started sending goods via the sea route and eager east european sailors on shore leave started thronging the cafe …. the owners cashed in on this with large Cyrillic lettering proclaiming the name and the wares ….. 20 yrs down the line the shipping industry had reached its own nadir as had the eastern block the cafe was deserted and only the brave staff kept faith with the regular patrons stoppin by for a beer after work ….. around 2001-2002 universal saw a determined attempt at a revamp and a 3rd innings ….. the owners of leo’s took it over the cafe and went for a fullon makeover, heady with the success of cafe royale …. the menu at universal now had exotic steaks (pretty good ones) and a plethora of fancy dishes …. but the old faithfuls were having none of this and the yuppies baulked at the thought of the old rep. Once again in a short while it became a ‘beer bar’again …… it’s a better beer bar and appears to have more clients but at the end of the day she’s just a tired old lady a bit gaudily primped up and awaiting the axe.

     

  • Beef Chili Fry
    Pepper prawns
    Mixed fried rice
    The search begins as we walk down Fort

    A ‘Parinda’ moment
    ‘Make you strong man’
    Mr Lazy is here
    Possibly the owner…the place looked well looked after

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    Filed under Finely Chopped Knights, Fort, Oriental, photo blogs, South Mumbai, Vintage Bombay