Category Archives: The world of blogging

Cooking up for a ‘Curry Queen’. Lunch with Maunika Gowardhan

Not that you needed  a reason but when a culinary achiever, and a very pretty lady to boot, looks at you intensely and says ‘you are the world’s best cook’, then you ignore the hyperbole, the generousness and the politeness for a while, and feel that it was all worth it.
Maunika Gowardhan who tweets as @cookinacurry and I finally met up when she dropped by at our place last Sunday. A trip which followed a promise to treat her to Bengali food cooked by me the next time she was at India. Well the trip to India did happen and the plans to meet were refreshed.  A glitch in between in the form of a bad back and I activated Plan B by trying  to ‘outsource’ lunch.
But it didn’t feel right. Especially after Maunika and I spoke for the first time and she said that she was really looking forward to eat my cooking. I cancelled the order I placed. The caterer, luckily a friend and a good egg, was most sporting about it. I roped in Bunkin Banu, my sous chef. Got her to cancel her plans to bunk on Sunday. Told her how M was asking about her. Which was true. Ordered the mutton the previous day. Marinated it. Booked a hilsa with Poonam on phone, for me to go and pick up the next day. Called a couple of friends over, @qtfan and @sassyfork , and it sounded like we had  a plan.
Poonam called me next morning and woke me up to tell me that the fish had arrived. I went to pick it up. Waiting impatiently for the Bong uncle with huge man boobs to stop haggling with Poonam. I was on a clock. But the truth is we Bengali men need our time in the fish market to unwind. I understood where this gentleman was coming from but I needed to scoot. Banu, bless her soul, did turn up as promised. Chopped and cleaned while I shopped.
I got back hit the pots and pans, instructed Banu on the prep work. Tweeted as I cooked. Clicked photos. On the camera. On the Blackberry for twitter. Trimmed the flowers that I bought for the vases. Answered Banu’s questions on what sheets to put out. Four dishes to cook between us. Rice and parathas too. One and a half hours to do it all.
Thankfully @sassyfork and @qtfan arrived just as I finished cooking. Blogger and twitter friends who are like family now. I put the house in their hands as I shaved, showered and transformed into a Bengali bhadrolok (gentleman) for the parar rockbaaj (local ruffian) that I looked like earlier in the morning.
Maunika arrived and in a way the earlier chaos was something that she would empathise with. For Maunika Gawardhan, referred to as Curry Queen in this blog post that Sassy googled, is a private Chef based at the UK where she has lived for 14 years now after she left India to do her MBA. Spurred by a desire to show England that there is more to ‘Indian’ that chicken teeeeka masala, this self taught cook, gave up her corporate job to start a catering business. She sold her company a couple of years back and now does private orders. Trying to introduce the UK to the cuisines of Maharashtra, Bengal, Goa, the South of India and Punjab of course. Finger foods such as mini bata vadas, Malvani fish curries, mishti doi with fruit compote… this enterprising lady with a very busy diary cooks up her wonders for her clients. And between all of this she looks after her two year old son, writes her blog, Cook In a Curry, hosts radio shows, cookery classes, works on cook book ideas. A lady who has followed her dream and is supported by a very proud husband.
K joined us  and the five of us chatted away through that Sunday afternoon.
For lunch I made kosha mangsho. The special occasion Bengali mutton dish at whose heart lies slow cooked caramelised onions. The theme of my initial dinners when I used to call folks over. It is meant to be a slow cooked dish but I use the pressure cooker. Something Maunika approved off.
Mutton marinated over a day
The caramelised onions at the heart of the kosha mangsho
Traditionalists would balk at the use of the pressure cooker
Kosha manghso
Parathas that Banu made to go with it
I wanted to make my doi posto ilish (Hilsa in yogurt and poppy mix) which I am rather proud of. Poonam didn’t let me down. The fish was of excellent quality. I had told her I had a guest from England. Interestingly everyone praised the ‘mustard’ fish while in my head it was a posto (poppy seed) fish. The measure that I used was 4:1. Goes to show what a powerful personality that mustard has.
Fish is normally fried in Bengali fish dishes unlike in fish recipes of the South or West of India
With the marinade. Maunika said that frying the fish helps the fish absorb the marinade better
Doi posto ilish…
I picked up goat’s brains from Khar Market to make my version of bheja masala (brain masala). A Mumbai icon and far removed from the world of Bengali cooking. And as Bourdain said, the Muslim cooking of Mumbai does better justice to organs than what the French cuisines does. Maunika told me that her grandmom used to make it for her. I stepped in that afternoon.
Sorry Dr Lecter but these are goats brains
Bheja masala
No invite to our place is complete without Banu’s shammi kebabs. And today the her fans from the world of twitter came in and met her and praised her as she giggled bashfully. I don’t do desserts so they desserts were out sourced. Sassy got khir kodom from Sweet Bengal. And I ordered parsi laganu custard from my friend Kurush of Dalal Enterprises.
Banu’s shammi kebabs begin to take shape
Kheer Kodom from Sweet Bengal
Laganu Custard from Dalal Enterprises
Banu and her many fans
The afternoon eventually had to end as do all good things in life. With some very kind words as dessert for me.


Filed under Bengali food, Food musings, People, The world of blogging

>Finely Chopped for president… log in on Facebook to vote


Well Finely Chopped has been nominated under the best food category in the Blogjunta polls. Which means I have to canvass for votes. Which is a waste of time since I never win anything in any case. But if you do want to, hint hint, then you have to log in on Facebook and vote here Or vote directly on the side bar of the blog

I have no idea what happens if I win…


Filed under From the hip, The world of blogging

>There is no business like the food business


I went to the food blogger’s dinner at Mumbai last night. This was sponsored by the wine division of the folks at UB. Hosted at Olive at Mahalaxmi.

The chief wine maker of UB was there and held forth on wines to a table of Mumbai’s food bloggers through the evening. I reached late after I had my breath knocked out by the heartless Mumbai traffic while navigating meetings earlier in the evening.

I was seated at a little table beside the main table. Caught up with a couple of old friends, Rushina and Jyotika. Wouldn’t have made it but for the earnest urgings from both of them.  Met some new folks – couple of charming ladies from the agency that organized the evening and a Chino German animator who was marooned in India after the film she came to make got delayed. I missed out on the wine lecture though. Well, as they say bad boys have all the fun.

We tasted wines. Without the commentary to go with it. I must admit that I am a bit of a Bacchanalian philistine. Wines give me headaches. But some of the stuff did smell good. I made the appropriate motions of occasionally stuffing my nose into the glasses of wine. Hopefully, looked enough of a ‘connoisseur’ to not make the sponsors question the organizers for inviting me.

The food had its moments. Three courses. Managed to find a few shreds of smoked salmon in the smoked salmon salad. The lights were rather dim and some of the pinkish bits turned out to be tomatoes. Which, dear vegetarians, cannot be a substitute for smoked salmon. I selected the brie phillo puff for the next course. By a fluke of nature I got the grilled tiger prawns instead. Which was great as the prawns were huge and yet wickedly juicy. Wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the vegetarians around though when this happened to me. I chose chicken skewers with pilaf for the mains. The highlight of the chicken plate was the toasted pine (?) nuts which came on the side. Added a nice texture to the rice and meat. Had a bit from the beef that Irene from Germany went for. It was rather tough. Jyotika’s choice of lamb was more succulent…Moroccan and therefore fairly Indian in taste. I quite liked the rather strong cheesecake which was there for dessert. Overpowered the crème brulee that followed. Couldn’t taste the latter. Guess the conversations were the high point of the dinner.

These are interesting times for food in India and everyone wants a piece of it. So you have about three exclusive food channels being launched now. Every news channel has at least one food related programme going for them. You have recipe shows on TV, with pre Doordashan days production qualities, which are surprisingly good cures for insomnia. And restaurant reviews where every restaurant is the best in the world and where every dish is the meal of a lifetime.

Talking of TV, Master Chef Australia 2 was aired on Star World here and it caught the imagination of many. It suddenly had people who normally do not cook rush into the kitchen to make coriander enrobed pomfret or Crème Anglais. It democratized food and went beyond foodies, food bloggers, food snobs and critics. Suddenly food was cool. Till Star Plus blundered in with Master Chef India.

The food business in India draws inspiration from the West. If you have salivated over the French Laundry Cookbook and been enthralled by the prose in the Les Halles Cookbook then you have a restaurant cookbook in India too. The Mainland China Cookbook. If the Les Halles and French Laundry books are labours of love and passion then this is its antiseptic opposite. The same publishers have now done a book around NDTV’s Rocky and Mayur’s ‘Highway on my Plate’. This is a Lonely Planet like restaurant directory which thankfully has a touch of colour. I read the chapters on Andhra, Arunachal and Assam last night and went to bed with colourful images of yak blood sausages, rohu cooked straight from the pond, pigeon curries, duck curries and meals eaten at tribal huts. There is still hope.

Following in the tradition of movie and auto awards you now have foodie awards. There was one from a newspaper group recently where a majority of awards went to restaurants of five and seven star hotels. Seemed more like a ‘Fine Dining’ award list. The remaining scraps went to stand alone restaurants which are normally in the news. The unsung, non PR savvy restaurants which just focus on serving simple and honest food went unnoticed. Then there was another award from the Internet portal of an American news channel. They said that the ‘best’ place to enjoy street food at Mumbai was apparently Punjab Sweets at Bandra. I am sure that local vada pao and bhel lovers would have a point of view about the mineral water sanitized North Indian chaats trumping the Mumbai street food charts. The best biriyani here too was from a five star. So what are my choices for the ‘best’ restaurants at Mumbai? I won’t be vain enough for that. But here is a list of my ‘favourites’.

Food bloggers are everyone’s meat. There are web sites and even mainstream newspapers and magazine lifting photographs and content from blogs without acknowledging the source. And you have startups and even established sites and newspapers and magazines asking bloggers to write for free…dangling carrots of visibility. 

The carnival continues. Restaurants and food marketers have discovered food bloggers. Offers to send yogurts and olive oils flood are mailed in. As do invites to “come and try the food at our restaurant”. . And offers to host food blogger meets. “Would be nice if you and your food blogger friends drop in”.

Well, as the cliché goes, ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch and all that jazz. Why waste money on mass media, it is all about media efficiency. So would bloggers go the journo and junket way? Or would they remain an independent voice?

Only time will tell.


Filed under From the hip, The world of blogging, Woes

>Sicko. And now they stole my fish.

>I fell for flattery the first time.

They were launching their Mumbai edition and wanted ‘prominent’ Mumbai bloggers to write for them on the food and night life scene at Mumbai. An unwritten agreement followed after the first piece… words for Rupees. It was fun initially. Chasing the elusive cheque every month a small irritant…the value would barely cover a restaurant meal in any case.

Then came the bummer in month four. They printed my article on Bandra without giving me credit. Angst, recriminations were to no avail though surprisingly the cheque came later. Meanwhile I had sent my next write up to them in good faith. It was on the fish scene at Mumbai. I had no idea what happened to that. Was it even published? My contact went silent. And copies of  the magazine could not be found anywhere in Mumbai. I wrote a couple of times to them and then forgot about it.

Saw the link to their e magazine on a fellow blogger’s Facebook page last week. Went and checked. They had published my seafood article in their August or September edition. More mails. Copy to the editorial team. My handler woke up. Denials. Then silence again.

Wrote a mail to the editor who funnily enough had just joined the Finely Chopped Facebook Page. The editor did a Sphinx. But my handler woke up again. Spewed venom. We have discovered that we actually haven’t paid you. But we are shocked that you brought it up. Shame on you. Bad bad boy …

To which my answer was, keep the change!

Frankly the affair was getting too murky and filthy for me. The antithesis of what many of us blog for. To share our opinions, feel good about ourselves. To sleep well.

So if you are launching a magazine or a portal, I wish you luck but please employ writers. If you are launching cooking oils, dips… please support the media industry…pay and advertise. And if you are opening a new restaurant please keep your free meal to yourself. I only write about food that I pay for.

A young blogger I admire said, when I discussed the issue of ‘free dinners’ with her, “that would be whoring right?”

All I could say is “language young lady” and nod in agreement at her wise words.

Oh and here’s the article in question, at least they gave the name credit for it:

Twenty thousand leagues above the sea … Mumbai’s seafood.
It is natural to think of Mumbai as a seafood heaven. It is a port city after all. Well you are not wrong. The city’s dining tables are loaded with the treasures of the sea. Ready to welcome you.
However, one needs to set one’s expectations right in the beginning. First of all don’t think that ‘abundant’ is equal to ‘cheap’. Seafood is fairly expensive here. More expensive than poultry, or even fresh water fish favoured by those from the East. Secondly, remember that Mumbai is the commercial capital of India. Not exactly a beach resort or a tourist hub. So you won’t find the sort of seafood courts which you would find in the Far East or in the Mediterranean. Thirdly, don’t expect dishes which romance the wonders of the sea. Bring out their flavours. Celebrate their tastes. Local seafood dishes are loaded with heavy spices. As a well travelled Italian Chef once told me about the clam masala that he ordered from Jai Hind at Bandra, ‘I love it. I can’t taste the clams. But I love the masaaala’. 
Thus acclimatised you can begin your discovery of the seafood delights of Mumbai.My first foray into the Piscean offerings in Mumbai was at a small family run restaurant called Saayba. Saayba is located on S V Road at the beginning of Bandra W. You can identify it by the huge queues waiting to be seated in the evenings. This is where I first had fried Bombay Duck or Bombil. As any quizzard will tell you, Bombay Duck is not a ‘duck’. It is a fish which is quite popular with Mumbaikars. Locals make curries and even pickles with dried Bombay Ducks. Fried Bombay Duck is what those at restaurants prefer. The trick is to get the right balance of the soft flesh of the fish and the thin layers of semolina (rawa) batter coating it. Neither should dominate. And if fried right, as they do in Saayba, then it should melt in your mouth. Some of the other must haves at Saayba are the prawn fry masala for those who like their prawns to be juicy and spicy. And if you, like me, were traumatised by the movie ‘Jaws’ while growing up then go in for a Baby Shark Achari. This is a very fiery preparation though and is likely to bring tears to your eyes.
Saayba is a Gomantak restaurant. Gomantak and Konkani cuisines are native to Maharashtra and come from the coastal regions of the Malwan district. You would find a number of reasonably priced Malvani restaurants at traditional Maharashtrian areas of Mumbai such as Mahim, Dadar and Bandra East. Some of the popular ones would include Gomantak and Sindhudurg at Dadar. Sadicha and Highway Gomantak at  Bandra E. Fresh Catch at Mahim. These are places where the locals eat. Always a sign of a good restaurant. These are simple operations. Usually non air conditioned. Family run. Crowded with a steady of flow of customers. The fish will be fresh given the high turnover. The portions are small. Prices are kept affordable enough for blue collar workers. 
You could travel all the way to Pangat close to Borivili National Park for a lavish, cramped but air conditioned Malvani seafood experience. Clams, mussels, oysters, fish, squids, lobsters, prawns, sharks … just let your mind wander and choose what you want to eat.
Most Malvani food is coconut based. The difference, I am told, comes from the proportion of dry and wet coconut used in the dishes. Traditional Indian spices like ground red chilli, garam masala, garlic and a local favourite, Kokum, feature liberally in the curries and masalas. These often overpower the taste of the fish. A far cry from the rock salt flecked, fire roasted fish of Istanbul or the Soy, lemon and spring onion kissed Baba Noynya cuisine of Malacca. A stroke of luck for those who find the taste of fish too ‘fishy’. What you get here is a complete meal which appeals to all senses. Not just a fish dish. Most Malvani dishes are served with a curry on the side and you can have this with rice or chapatti.
The most famous Malvani restaurant would possibly be Gajalee. By ‘famous’ I mean the one that features most often on TV and in print. Gajalee started off in Vile Parle in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai. Since then it has branched to a number of places including Phoenix Mills in Central Mumbai. The new branches are fairly modern affairs. Air conditioned, English speaking head waiters, inviting sofas, look classy enough for corporate dinners. Not where locals flock to. My travels seeking out good food in foreign lands have taught me that such places are likely to be expensive and not truly authentic. There are many who praise the tandoori crab or whole stuffed pomfrets at Gajalee. These are the dishes which feature on television and are likely to burn a whole in your pocket. I am obviously not a big fan of the food here. I have not been impressed during the couple of occasions that I ate at their Phoenix outlet. Yes, I went for the comparatively cheaper dishes and not the blockbusters which many swear by. All I will say is that this is the place to go to if you want to sample local Malvani food and are not really willing to roll up your sleeves and hit the streets for it.
Mumbai seafood is not all about Malvani food. You could sample the Mangalorean fare from across the state border in what are known as the Shetty restaurants. The triumvirate of Mahesh, Apoorva and Trishna in South Mumbai’s Fort area have defined this cuisine for years. They have now branched out to the suburbs as well. This is a good place to try South Indian dishes such as fish or prawn gassi, coconut based curries, with the string hopper like neer dosas. You will find a higher proportion of curry leaves and mustard seeds in the dishes here in comparison to the Malvani dishes. The standout dish in my opinion is a preparation called ‘butter pepper garlic’ at Mahesh. You can have this with crabs if you are not out on your first date. They break the shell for you if you so wish. For the lazy, this dish is available in easier to eat options such as squids or prawns.
You could try the Goan version of seafood dishes. Goan cuisine could broadly be divided into two schools. One is the Portuguese influenced Catholic pork and vinegar based dishes. The other consists of the seafood dishes preferred by the Hindu Saraswat Brahmins. These are coconut based and are similar to the cuisine of Malwan. There aren’t too many places which serve Saraswat cuisine in Mumbai. The Goan owned Soul Fry at Bandra’s Pali Naka is a good bet.  
Then you have the Jai Hind chain spread across Mumbai. Here you will get a taste of everything … Malvani, Goan, Mangalorean. The dishes are less expensive than those of Gajalee. Taste closer to the real thing in my opinion. Are more accessible through the city. Have air conditioned options for those who are not comfortable with the Spartan settings of the more simple Maharashtrian ‘lunch homes’. You must try the bombil stuffed with prawns here. A truly memorable dish.
Most Continental restaurants in Mumbai served seafood dishes as well. For a Bengali fresh water fish experience you can head to Oh Calcutta or Calcutta Club.
It is natural to feel tempted to go out and buy fish in Mumbai and cook them at home. Where else would you get such a collection of fresh fish? The thing to keep in mind is that the traditional fish markets of Mumbai are ‘wet’ markets. They are literally muddy and messy and are likely to turn on those who love to buy fish. Most fish markets have an army of women selling a whole range of fish – pomfret, kingfish, mackerel, baby sharks, squids, clams, mussels, betki, rohu, prawns, lobsters, crabs – name it and you will get it. Fish is normally sold by piece and not be weight. Under intense haggling. These fisher women mean business. Use traditional shopping artillery such as a counter offer of half the price quoted or pretending to walk away in disgust. You will win some. Lose some. Definitely a more entertaining and dramatic experience than the average Hindi TV serial. For those not so adventurous, the cold storage of some malls offer a frigid, sterile, mechanised, non histrionic, uneventful, easier, hassle free way of buying fish.
So go out. Buy fish. Cook fish. Eat fish at the restaurants of Mumbai. And don’t forget to order the dish which most people love in Malvani seafood restaurants… Mutton Masala.


Filed under Mumbai highs, pisces, The world of blogging, Woes

>The rise of the Bloggerazzi…lunch with the TMRS folks at Swissotel


Candies, Ustaad and his jaalebis, Martin’s Corner, Vada pao, ‘Masala Trails’, Scarlett and her love for coffee shops, ‘Purple Foodie’, ‘Oh Calcutta, Mainland China’, pao bhaaji, roshogolla, Bandra, butter pepper garlic squid … not your everyday topic of discussion at Bangkok.. They feature prominently in the world of Finely Chopped … and in today’s workshop on using the ‘Bloggerazzi’ for mining consumer insights. Imagine getting an official forum to speak on one’s passion…interspersed with case studies on Indian restaurants at Bangkok, Thai massage parlours at Mumbai, Kick Boxing and tarot card readers at Chatu Chak…that’s what happened at the Esomar TMRS session this morning

Followed by the buffet lunch at Swissotel which included poached squids and mussels, kheema fry-like minced pork, Suki Naki – grass noddles with shrimp on a flat grill, hot and sour, sweetish clear beef soup, shrimp rice, caramelised chicken in basil…and somewhere strange looking tandoori chicken and a pasta counter…desserts where for a change I chose the West over the Orient… photographing away as I spoke to fellow delegates

This is how Tandoori chicken looks when cooked by a Swiss Hotel in Thailand

My love for Thai food deserts me when it comes to desserts
Hot and sour clear beef soup…slightly on the sweet side

Suki Yaki…glass noodles on a flat teppenyaki like grill

The making of suki yaki

Minced pork…Thai kheema masala

Loved the poached squids
Poached mussels. memories of Bourdain in Frane in a Cook’s Diary
Did a Dravid as I had to convert a 20 m presentation into a 3 hr workshop

The TMRS folks & Pravin…note to self, don’t sit for group photos

Add caption


Filed under Bangkok, Faraway foods, Oriental, photo blogs, The world of blogging

>Putting blogs to work … please write in

>Note: This post was not written by Ross Geller

Hi, today is Ashtami. The biggest and most auspicious day of Durga Puja. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Puja in our building. I was there when the Puja started 25 years back. And am lucky enough to be here this time too. 25 years. Phew, that’s a long time. Wonder how things will be on number 50?

Got a piece of good news to share with you on this auspicious day. As you probably know I am a market researcher by trade. That’s what pays for the bacon I bring home, make pasta with and write about. My job is to help clients understand what consumer feel about topics of relevance so that they (the clients) can work out their strategies.

Well, this is an instance where work and play collides. I had written a paper on how blogs and social media (Facebook, Twitter) can be used to get customer feedback for small businesses. The paper was based on, what else, food blogging. Things I observed on Finely Chopped.

Got to know today that this paper has got selected by the Market Research Society of India. Which means that I will have to present it at their conference in Mumbai in mid November.

Esomar (the world body of market research) has also organised a conference with TMRS (the Thai Market research body) at Bangkok. They have asked me to conduct a workshop on this earlier in November.

So now that I have probably lost you this is what I would like you to do. Please write to me through comments on this post (ideally) or through DMs, e’s on the following:

If you read blogs ….

  • Why do you read blogs?
  • What do you look for in blogs?
  • Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
  • Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
  • Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please

If you are a blogger?

  • What got you started?
  • What keeps you going?
  • Do business owners get in touch with you? For what? eg marketing their products, finding out about your views, etc…

If you own a business/ are an entrepreneur ….

  • Have you used blogs/ social networks to further your business? How?
  • Do you use blogs/ social networks to market your products?
  • Do you use blogs/ social networks to get feedback from customers? Do you ask people directly for their opinions or do you just read what’s put up on blogs/ Facebook pages?
  • Specific examples where info from blogs or Facebook has worked for you

I am really counting on you to write in. The paper got selected based on what I learnt at Finely Chopped and on Facebook after all…. so please delurk and write in…otherwise I won’t have much to say…


Filed under The world of blogging

>Finely Chopped turns three … The depths of Howrah and back home at Yellow Tree


Finely Chopped turned three on 7th October

Gosh can’t believe it’s been three years since the first post. After Kainaz managed to figure out what this ‘blog’ thingie was and opened Finely Chopped for me. It was meant to be a crib blog. I started off with  rants against Kingfisher’s food, JATC and then on Spaghetti Kitchen. Somewhere along the line the warm and fuzzy world of food took over. The Knife was sheathed. Soon Finely Chopped became an ‘open recipe book’. A way of life. I wrote eighteen posts in the first three months. Now I feel uneasy if I go to bed without writing a post.

And what a birthday it’s been. A very sweet mail from veteran blogger, and soon to be book writer, Idea- Smithy, the previous day which started:

Hi Kalyan,
“How are you?
I was reading your back posts on my feed-reader when I realised I’d been engrossed reading about something I never thought I’d enjoy – cooking! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. You really have a flair for food writing if you can get a non-foodie interested!…”
And then I woke up this morning to read the post, “When The Knife Cooks” by Jyotika on her evening at our place. No one has made my food look as wonderful as she did. I couldn’t stop beaming after I read the post. A nice birthday present even if by chance. Both folks I knew thanks to the blog.

These were precursors to the mails and texts that followed from others…most of whom I knew through the blog. The amazing set of friends that I made in these three years. My ‘Finely Chopped Knights’.

I was at a loose end for lunch after a busy morning at work and took myself to the New Bengal Mess which became Howrah and now hides behind Zaffran. The food was utter crap to put it politely. And my stomach didn’t agree with it. Am still cramping. But then as K said, this is why I had started Finely Chopped. So watch out Howrah, I am coming.
Soon I got talking with a group of three who were sitting beside me. They worked in a Calcutta based ad agency. Two of them were in Mumbai for six months. The gentleman missed home food and ordered posto bora and begun bhaaja and pabda with sheer glee. Turned out their office was next to my temporary work digs at Fort. We chatted about where to buy fish… about the famous Dulal of City Centre and the aggravation of ending up with a whole rui for a family of two. And we sung praises of the biriyani of Hangla at Bandra in chorus.
Three years back I wouldn’t have chatted with strangers at restaurants. Nor would I have met the number of wonderful folks that I have through the blog. Many of whom have become friends in the real world. Yes, it has been quite a ride.
Came back to work to see an urgent email. A first time blogger had opened a blog, ‘somehow’ written a post and was now trying to figure out how to access her own blog. So I was giving advice to someone who just written her first ever post, three years from the day I wrote my first post. 
And a food court featured prominently in this post! We had an interesting phone call where we discussed the merits of using a pen name versus one’s real name, the difference between a ‘url’ and a blog name and the ‘about me’ section… and on how to read comments which people had posted. 

Some of the Knights met up at Global Fusion at night and asked me to join in. I had to decline the invite thanks to my post Howrah angst. 
K and I went to our home away from home, Yellow Tree. A calming apple ice tea. A thickish nourishing mushroom and Parma ham soup to calm my sore tummy. A nice stiff hummus and pita with extra pita on the house. A sublime crisp Vietnamese Basa cooked in an ethereal sun dried tomato based sauce served on a platter of potato baked with cheese and red pepper. Poetic. And as our smiling friend with the huge moustache explained, the frozen ‘Vietnamese’ basa imported daily would hopefully be free from the recent oil spill near Mumbai. I went for a penne arrabiata keeping my battered food pipes in mind. I am not a big fan of arrabiata but the one at Yellow Tree was not overtly sour and had enough character to keep one interested.

‘K, your photos just refuse to stand straight’
Pic taken by K
Pic taken by K
And now there is finally something to do with blogging which I can put on a time sheet at work. I normally keep my blog and work life separate but this I am really kicked about. I have been invited to conduct a workshop at Bangkok on how to get consumer insights from web 2.0. The meat for this case came from the world of food blogging and its ‘Blogerazzi’. Now all I need to do is to figure out how to convert a twenty minute paper into a three hour workshop! BTW how do you like the term ‘blogerazzi’?
 Here’s to year four.


Filed under Anniversaries, Bandra Bites, From the hip, Mumbai highs, The world of blogging, Woes