Monday, January 4, 2016

The 2016 Wishlist

One flip side of following a bunch of foodies on twitter and instagram is that I end up with a long list of places I want to go to and more importantly, dishes I want to try. A lot of these are from far flung places that I know I won't get to any time soon. But for the start of the new year, I present to you the top 10 dishes I want to try this year in Mumbai. Some of these are from age old restaurants that I just haven't somehow managed to get to. And others are from the new menus or the new launches. So here's the roadmap to a food filled 2016:

1. Delhi Chaat at Ziya: I dined at Vineet Bhatia's modern Indian restaurant at the Oberoi when they first opened and was frankly underwhelmed. But they have gone through multiple rounds of menu change since and some of dishes on the new menu, particularly the Delhi Chaat, look super tempting.

2. Guava Tana-tan at the Bombay Canteen: I think we all agree that Bombay Canteen was the biggest opening of 2015. I've been there many times but I didn't get to taste their take on tarte tatin - a guava puff pastry dessert - before they took it off the menu. Hopefully it comes back this year!

3. Missal Pao at Aaswad: This traditional Maharashtrian restaurant has been around forever but last year, their missal pao got voted the best dish in the world. You just have to try that one then, don't you.

4. Thali at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay: The most legendary of thali places in the city is set in the middle of crowded Kalbadevi market. Now, I usually avoid Gujarati thali places because all dishes in there - even the main courses - tend to be sweet. But I have it on good authority that Thaker serves a non-sweet version of both the dal and the kadhi.

5. Ashok Vada Pao: I must be living under a rock because I never heard of this vada pao stall near Dadar's Kirti College until recently. Ashok's claim to fame is that they add besan chura (crispy fried bits) to the bun in addition to the potato vada. That has to be good.

6. Sakura Peach at Wasabi: From the cheapest dish in the city to the most expensive restaurant around. I don't see myself dining at Wasabi anytime soon but I'm surely going there to get this dessert made of peaches and champagne ice cream.

7. The Seven Layer Cookie at The Nutcracker: If you have read any part of my blog, you know I have a massive sweet tooth. Which is why I've been eyeing this 7-layer cookie bar for a while now.

8. The Big Bang Theory at Joss: I put Joss on my 2015 list as well but not being a big fan of Asian cuisine, I didn't make it there. Still, one dish stays in my head from all the reviews I have read - a chocolate dessert created right on your table. So Joss goes back on the list for this year.

9. Mac and Cheese Pizza at Fat Man's Café: If you are a carbaholic like me, it's hard to get past your two favourite carbs in one dish. This is the kind of food designed to give you a heart attack but you only live once, right?

10. Whatever they sell at NRI: Atul Kocchar's Indian restaurant is set to open this month and the food is supposed to be inspired by the iconic dishes Indians came up with when they moved abroad. Like Chicken Tikka Masala or Bunny Chow. Can't wait to try this one!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Something old, something new


It's the most refreshing of days; the beginning of a year when everything seems just a bit more possible. I firmly believe that you should start each new year with a gorgeous dessert. And this is one dessert that is only possible in Mumbai, where strawberries show up in winter rather than summer. A combination of the wintery gingerbread with balsamic strawberries, everything blanketed in a white chocolate sauce and capped with a candied ginger slice. This is a trifle that gives trifles a good name.

I made my gingerbread for Christmas. The recipe, which originally came from Smitten Kitchen, is the one I have used for two years running and it never disappoints. The gingerbread cake is non-fussy and good to have around the snacking during the holiday season. It also freezes remarkably well; in fact, I made mine about 10 days back and put part of it in the freezer. So if you already have gingerbread, you need to make your strawberries and white chocolate ganache 3-4 hours in advance, let everything chill and assemble just before serving. If you don't end up eating the triffle immediately, it actually improves with a few hours in the fridge. I made mine in a jar so I put a lid on and packed it for work.

Ingredients
Half the gingerbread cake made with this recipe
1 cup strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200 grams white chocolate, chopped
1 cup cream (heavy cream is best but I used Amul 25%)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
candied ginger slices to garnish

In a bowl, mix together strawberries, sugar, vanilla extract and balsamic vinegar. Heat the cream until it is simmering. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate and nutmeg and stir until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth chocolate ganache. Chill both the strawberries and the ganache in the fridge for 3-4 hours. If you are making gingerbread cake now, also cool it completely.

Cut gingerbread cake into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. In a glass or a jar, add a layer of gingerbread. Spoon over the strawberries and then add a layer of white chocolate ganache. Repeat the layers and top with a slice of candied ginger.