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The Top Flavours of 2016

With only a few hours to go before the new year rings in, all my feeds are full of reminiscences of the year past. And what a crazy, crazy year 2016 has been. But no matter what ups and downs the world and the life throws your way, there's always food.

From myriad variety of new dishes I tried this year, I have culled for you the top 9 flavours I discovered this year. Some you may know, and others are for you to add to your wishlist for 2017.



1. Desi Chai: In my mind, chai has always been something you drink at home. When outside, it was almost coffee for me since restaurants and cafes usually get the tea flavour wrong. Then Chaayos happened. Their desi chai is good a tea as I make at home. Plus you can customise it any way you want - add more milk or less, make it light or strong and choose from a wide range of spices. If you must know, my standard order is a full milk kadak (strong) chai with tulsi and ginger. With a bun maska, I now prefer it to starbucks.

2. Butter Pecan Ice Cream: This one has been on the Indigo deli menu forever but I only discovered it earlier this year. It's saltier and nuttier than you expect, and a better icecream is hard to find in Mumbai.

3. Baked Brie: A classic this one, yet 212 All Good in Lower Parel, Mumbai managed to reinvent it with a dash of honey and some amazing crackers to dip into the melty cheese.

4. Jhama's Gulab Jamuns: I've had many a gulab jamun in my life - most bad or average, some good. And what a delightful surprise it was to discover this sweet shop in Chembur's Sindhi Camp rightfully claiming its place as the best gulab jamun in Mumbai. For fans of this deep fried happiness, Jhama has versions ranging from tiny bite sized pieces to some unique variants like the ones soaked in rabdi.

5. Gobindobhog Rice: In Punjab, I grew up eating only the basmati rice. Over the years, I've tried and liked a few other varieties. But when the folks at Lavaash by Saby in Delhi brought out this ghee laden Bengali rice, it even outshone the excellent Armenian curries it was meant to accompany. Fragrant and flavourful, this has potential to become my favourite rice variety.

6. Savoury Panchamrit: Earlier this year, I made a trip to Konkan coast with the folks at JW Marriott. At one of the homestays, we tried this super flavourful coconut soup that derives its name from the five flavours (savoury, spicy, sweet, sour, bitter) that go into its making. Think of this one as khowsuey on steroids.

7. Almond Croissant: Blue Tokai entered Mumbai this year and this Delhi roastery proudly takes its place as the best cafe in town. And the croissants that accompany this coffee are buttery, flaky and simply perfect. They sell three variants of croissants of which my favourite is the almond crusted, lightly sweet version.

8. Pithla Hummus: 2016 was the year of modern Indian and fusion food. Most of it failed but where it worked, it worked brilliantly. The newly opened Kala Ghoda restaurant, Hitchki, came up with an Indian mezze platter that blew me away. The pithla hummus is surely an improvement on the original by a big margin.

9. Polenta: Yes, polenta gets a bad rap but that's because it's so difficult to cook well. When Mumbai's favourite fine dine restaurant Olive got a new chef earlier this year, he added a polenta dish to the menu that is full of Mediterranean flavours and vegetables that make the dish sparkle.

That's it for 2016 folks. Hope your new year is sweet, salty, nutty and chock-full of love.

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