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+91 India Calling !

" So often these days eating Indian food passes for spirituality. I don't meditate, I don't pray,
but I eat two samosa's every day. "
- Dan Bern
As we turned into the lanes of Juhu’s Gulmohar road, we saw what seemed to be a very highbrow art gallery. We walked into the restaurant and it was certainly love at first sight. The tall white walls were given bright pops of colour and each window had a very interesting installation from various artists. The vibe of the restaurant is very young, quirky and refreshing
and there is so much to look around at.

The aim of the restaurant was to get all the delicacies across India in one place which reflects in the dish names on the menu. Each name is headed by a number which happens to be the area code for the location the dish hails from. Quite interesting right ? While for some of dishes they have maintained the traditional flavours, for some they have added their own quirky twists. 

Soup
Yakhni Paya Shorba
+ 91 – 172 ( Chandigarh )
We believe the menu might have made a tiny slip in the area ISD code here but the flavours were absolutely spot on ! We were reluctant to start our meal with a soup, but on Mr. Gaurav’s (the manager ) insistence, we called for a helping. The Kashmiri style broth is traditionally made by slow cooking the lamb trotters for hours, mostly overnight, with saffron, spearmint & yogurt to ensure every bit of flavour from the meat is one with the broth. +91 has made sure they keep with the tradition and cook Kazi Lamb trotters for at least eight hours. Mildly spiced, Rich in flavours & served piping hot, this soup is perfect for a cool winters day ! And with Mumbai’s slightly nipping weather, now is the best time to try it out.

Nibbles
Edamame & RA-TA-LU Tokri Chat
+91 – 11 ( Delhi )
Edamame, Ratalu ( sweet potato ) and Chat are certainly not three thing we saw coming together. What struck us first is the edible, potato tokri in which the chaat was placed. This Chat was made from  sweet potato, edamame  (young soya beans), sweet & sour hung curd, pomegranate, tamarind sauce, , mint chuntey and a drizzle of spices. From the ingredients you must have gathered the crazy textures and flavour we got in each bite ! We had crunchy, soft, crispy, sour, sweet, spicy … and the best part is everything came together in perfect harmony. For those who wonder the edamame’s place in this equation, well it brought a lovely earthiness to the pungent flavours in the tokri.

Tandoor & Tawa 
Galoutis 
+ 91 – 522 ( Lucknow )
We got to try four variations of the Galouti here – Porobello Mushroom, Beetroot, Baby Lamb and Saffron & Suran Galouti. The Galouti, famous because of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, are known for their melt in the mouth consistency. Many say they drew inspiration from the French silken pates but whatever it is, we are truly grateful of the invention. +91 had quite a challenge on its hand to make kebabs that melted in the mouth with four completely different ingredients & they succeeded with flying colours. Each kebab left but a delicious essence on your tongue as it slithered around your taste buds disappearing down your throat. We hear the Lamb meat is minced over 18 times to ensure a melt in the mouth experience. We also a Suran & Saffron galouti was a first for us. The delicious butter roasted yam mousse galouti was very rich and also one of our favourites amongst the lot.
Recheado Murg Tikka 
+91 – 832  ( Goa )
The Portuguese influence in the culture of Goa is quite evident even today ! They left behind some gorgeous architecture, interesting traditions & yummy recipes. Rechaedo in Portuguese means stuffed and the Rechaedo masala is normally stuffed inside a fish, which is quite a favourite in Goa. Of course the spicy, pasty, rich, red masala was later used for a variety of meals but with the flavours intact. At +91, they marinated pieces of boneless chicken ( tight )  in the rich, traditional, goan style Rechaedo and it certainly took us back to the Susegad state.
Telli Cherry Malai Tikka
+91 – 490 ( Tellicherry, Kerala )
Made with spices from the South, the Telli Cherry Malai Tikka is a mix of sweet & spicy. Pieces of boneless chicken ( breast  ) are marinated in a mix of Malabar black pepper and Malai ( cream ) before they are tandoored. Though we definitely liked the flavours, the name kind of made us hope they had used the Telli Cherry variety of pepper corn instead of the Malabar variety.
It would have been quite interesting.
Patra Ni Macchi / Paneer 
+91 - 21483
Primary a Parsi fish delicacy, +91 has also done a take on the dish in Paneer for the vegetarians.  Fish or Paneer marinated in a green chilli- coriander chutney and steamed in Banana leaves. Opening the little packets are a joy in itself. We absolutely loved both the varieties as both the variations as they were tender and well marinated. The fish used for the Patra Ni Macchi was Ravas.

Mains
 
Zucchini Mussallam 
+91- 522  ( Lucknow )
Kebabs, Mussallams is the rich legacy left behind the mughals. Ibn Battuta described Murgh Musallam as a favourite dish of Muhammad bin Tughluq and we knew we would definitely see it on the menu of collated classics here. However, what we DID NOT expect was a Zucchini Mussallam. Our first thought was, Zucchini? Really? Why would you do that ?!! But we decided to give in and take it for a test run. We got a rich orange-ish borth that in which were little pouches / cups of zucchini, filled with a paneer burji. If you haven’t guessed by the description already, this meal is incredibly heavy ! The very versatile squash often gives a bitter aftertaste but the Chefs at +91 managed to mask it perfectly in its blend of rich spices of the onion, tomato, nutmeg broth
along with the slight spicy & crumbly paneer burji.
Rajashthani Laal Maas 
+ 91- 291 ( Jodhpur Rajasthan )
It was back in 2014 that at first bite, on the banks of Lake Pichola, we started our love affair with Laal Maas. The spicy red mutton curry prepared with yogurt and hot spices spoke to our soul in Rajashtan and +91 did not disappoint.  The tender pieces of meat separated on touch and the robust, red gravy sang a piquant tune on the tongue.

Indian Breads
Kulcha and Rosemary & Olive naan
+91 ( India )
The Kulcha at +91 was very soft, despite getting cold thanks to our never ending photo session.  The Rosemary & olive naan was much welcome bitter-salty twist on the beloved, buttery Indian flatbread. It went famously with the Laal Maas & Zucchini Mussallam. 

Daal
Langer Wali Kaali Daal 
+91 – 183 ( Amritsar ) 
Made popular by a dhaba outside the golden temple in Amritsar, this daal has stolen the hearts of many. One of the team member that went to review the +91 did not like dals in general but she came back raving about the Langer Wali Kaali Daal saying she had eaten it just as is. Quite a compliment right ? This daal is prepared by cooking whole black lentil in white butter overnight  ( or for at least 6 hours ) to ensure you get all the flavours the lentils have to offer, and its quite a winner !

Signature Cocktails 
Martini in Benaras
+91 – 542 ( Varanasi )
“ Khaike paan Benaras wala ” is exactly how one would describe this drink. This drink is simply a traditional Benarasi Pan Muddled with Vodka, and it tastes spot on with just the extra special kick … if you know what we mean. We were busy sipping on it as a refresher after our meal.
Avakai Mojito
+91-866 ( Vijayawada. Andhra Pradesh )
We have heard of Aachari Chicken but an Aachari cocktail was certainly a first. A very potent Rum based (Bacardi Carta Blanca) cocktail mixed with Andhra Pickle, mint and lime. Every sip will make you wince in a happy way if you enjoy a very sour punch on your tastebuds. We LOVED this drink.
Pannarita 
+91 ( India )
Another favourite of the afternoon, a tall, slushy glass of Vodka, Tamarind & Raw Mango which always makes heads turn. You cannot help but get a brain freeze because the flavours of so summery and tangy you want to keep sipping on it despite it being a slush.

Desserts
Gajar Halwa Modak
+ 91 – 22  ( Mumbai ) 
Ever since the launch of +91, pictures of the Gajar Halwa Modak have been taking social media by storm ! Gajar Halwa is mixed with some cardamom and pistachio to form a Panna Cotta. Now we are guessing what helps it retain its shape is quite a bit of gelatine, its not too wobbly either. Though the mention of Gajar Halwa generally takes you to a memory of something very very sweet , the gajar halwa modak isn’t.  It is fairly sweet and with some lovely nutty flavours from the pistachio mousse around it, it is quite a different kind of dessert.
Hazelnut Chocolate Praline
+ 91 – 4865 ( Munnar, Kerala )
We absolutely LOVED every bit of this dessert and lapped up even the crumbs. Hazelnut Chocolate Praline over a rich, soft Belgian chocolate mousse with a cherry on top … **Cravings**. Though the Praline is slightly tough to break, it’s worth all the effort. The dessert is teamed up with a raspberry sorbet & a thin Caramel Florentine that will pack a very exciting sweet and sour punch.

+91 certainly outdid themselves on many aspects, kudos to Chef Sameer Bhalekar and team for the wonderful experience. Also a special thank to Gaurav, Amol, Suraj & Jeetu for being wonderful hosts. There is no doubt in our minds that we shall be back for another go at the menu…. Until then… excuse us while we wipe the drool off our keyboard.

The Earth Plate, Sahara Star, Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary with a Feast !

" Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. "
- Plautus
For 10 glorious years we have been watching the culinary maestros at work in the show kitchen at the Earth Plate, Sahara Star, while enjoying delicacies from around the world… 
and now it’s time to celebrate.

For this special occasion, Sous Chef Suhail Sangram and his amazing team have prepared
quite a feast for all their partons. 

Chef Suhail Sangram said, “ It is indeed a very special occasion and what better way to celebrate it than with food? We are presenting all our guests with a large buffet comprising of dishes from Indian, Continental, Chinese and many other cuisines. We also have a special counter that promotes a unique cuisine we have done in the 10 years that have gone by such as the Awadhi Cuisine.”

As Chef took us through the buffet, we were quite blown away ! The variety of dishes and cuisines in front of us were so many we had no idea where to start ! For the price, it seemed to be quite a steal.




About the Buffet

Live Counters 
We began our meal with some hot appetizers from the live counters. Tempuras, Tandoor,
grilled food… you name it and it was right there ! 
Mains
The mains covered varieties of rice, gravies, meat preparation across cuisines. Our absolute favourites of the evening were the Laal Maas, Ambade Ka Murgh, Grilled Tenderlion
with Herb Sauce & Murgh Biryani.

Special Counter 
The cuisine of the special counter changes every few days. The day we went, they had the Awadhi cuisine and we were glad we got to try this one out! The highlight of our evening was, hands down, the Haleem ! The Haleem we had here was probably one of the best we have ever had !
Creamy, meaty and simply melted in the mouth.
We were controlling ourselves from diving into the serving bowl.
Salad counter
Along with some very interesting salads, the salad counter also had an assortment
of Cheese, fruit & cold cuts. 

Soups
Bread 
Baked bread, Tandoored flat bread or Buttery Tawa breads…take your pick!
Desserts
For us what we end the meal with is most crucial and at the dessert counter
we were certainly spoilt for choice !

Cakes, mousses, Ice creams, Kulfis, sugar free desserts, chocolate rock and much more. 
Our favourites from the spread were the very potent Chocolate Rum Balls & the delectable Raspberry & Pistachio set mousse which we hogged on.

Incase you do not find something you like on the buffet, which is highly unlikely, you may even order something from their special à la cart menu or even suggest a dish at the top of your mind and they will happily satisfy your craving!

All of this is available for only Rs. 2007* until the 30th of November 2017 !
Quite a steal, right ?

Along with you enjoying the delicacies, you may even get lucky to meet their magician Ivan Aranha who will boggle your mind with some very clever tricks.
Ivan Aranha, “ I have been with Sahara Star for about 8 years and it was been an absolute pleasure. I find myself really lucky to be here in their milestone year. Just like the food here, I bring a smile on the guests faces and that brings me immense pleasure.”

So drop by and join in the 10th Anniversary celebration of The Earth Plate at Hotel Sahara Star & relish the buffet from a decade of experience and expertise. 

Date: 10th November to 30th November 2017

Venue: The Earth Plate- Our Global Cuisine Restaurant – The Indian Specialty Restaurant at Hotel Sahara Star, Vileparle (East), Near Domestic Airport

For reservations or more details call on  022 39807444  or  email the team for info at info@saharastar.com

Cake Mixing 2017, The Leela Mumbai



“ A party without a cake is just a meeting.”

As soon as we entered Citrus, we simply couldn’t take our eyes off the beautifully arranged raisins, apricots, pistachios, cashews as well as other berries and nuts. But what actually got everyone’s spirits ‘ High ‘ was the vast array of rums, Vodkas, Whiskeys & more placed around the table.

The table was set for The Leela, Mumbai’s annual cake mixing and the excitement of the festivities were definitely in the air. Chef Surender Mohan & Pastry Chef Rashna Elavia kicked off the cake mixing with a warm welcome and ‘pop’ went the bottle caps
to let rivers of delicious intoxicants flow.

Smiles spread across the room as we all donned on our Santa hats, Christmas aprons, gloves
& began thoroughly mixing in the booze & the berries.

Along with the mixing we also had a lovely festive spread that we absolutely hogged on, our favourites being the Pineapple and Raspberry Crumble & the piping hot Hot Chocolate.

We even spoke to some other bloggers about their experience at the mixing.
“ The best food groups lie at the bottom of the pyramid. That allows you to have copious amounts of the good stuff. The good stuff I am talking about the heaps of dried fruit and nuts mixed in alcohol making this into an almost healthy cocktail. This almost healthy cocktail will sit and ponder about the good cheer it will spread, when baked into Christmas cakes. The cake mixing ceremony is almost like a harbinger of good tidings to follow. At the hi tea it my most favourite dessert was the pineapple and Raspberry crumble. A Shortcrust pastry stuffed with a pineapple and Blackberry conserve, it was buttery perfectly bait and the sweetness of the pastry was beautiful balanced
with the tartness of the fruit. ”
- Shalini Digvijay

“ Cake mixing brings back nostalgic memories at leela , it also makes me remind that the family which cooks together and eats together is always together. The best part is that I felt was at ease at The Leela, the comfort of being at home . The best beverage was hot chocolate and I also
loved the kiwi cake which made me crave for more ! ”
- Shilpa Chawla

“ It was my first cake mixing and it was an absolute blast ! Even though I’m a Hindu, Christmas is my favourite festival of the year. I can’t even begin to imagine how good the cakes are going to taste with such a potent mix.I love the staff and service of Leela, it was nice to see them spent a light moment too. Unfortunately I could only try the ham sandwich and coffee which were certainly good but the desserts looked beyond amazing! ”
- Sanskaara Lalwani

“ The cake mixing was good fun. Nice to see the importance of the ceremony for the hotel staff as well. My favorite from the post mixing spread was the hot chocolate. ”
- Shweta Java Tiwari


The very potent mix from this cake mixing will be stored & used for making Christmas cakes & treats which will be available for all in December, and we simply can’t wait ! 

P.S.: Until they bake the world a better place, keep checking our blog for updates !

Contemporary Fusions at Kuai Kitchen, Colaba



' I don't discriminate against sushi. It's all good in my book. ' 
- Billy Horschel 

Kuai is a quaint little Pan Asian QSR located right outside Cusrow Baug in Colaba. Its splash of pop-art with its adorable panda mascot gives the little three table seating a peppy vibe. 


Sushi

Kuai focuses more on contemporary sushi so you won’t find a lot of Salmon or fish on the menu. It does break your heart a bit, but after we tried a few options we really liked them. From their menu we tried the Volcano Prawn Tempura Roll and Crab meat sushi rolls ( not on the menu but available at the outlet ) both of which were Uramaki . The Volcano Tempura rolls had a beautiful crispy tempura prawn encased in the soft sticky rice doused with sauces and a drizzle of spice. The crab meat rolls had a sweetness to them owing to the meat with a small drop of sauce on the crown and a slight crispy over the rice.


Dimsum
The Chicken & Chive Dumplings were a little simple affair & a perfect snack for the health conscious. The steamed rice blankets were of a perfectly consistency letting the chicken and the salty chives shine. Great with a dip of soya.


Appetizers

Their list of appetizers is quite interesting and really refreshing as you see them trying to bring in their own specialties over the typical chilli chicken varieties and its likes. What made our day was certainly the Salt & Pepper Prawns which was quite a zing ! Tender prawn sautéed in pepper and butter… a MUST HAVE. The Crispy Calamari was a bit of a let down, while he Chicken drums of heaven were quite good with its crispy coating and soft meat.


Mains

Right from seafood to red meat the mains here have something for everyone ! Their vast array of options got us completely confused on what to order. We went for a Diced Tenderloin, the meat of which was absolutely tender and flavours stole our heart however, we wish they would reduce the amount of greens, especially the bell peppers. American Chopsuey is what called out to us next, it had been quite a childhood favourite and the dish here didn’t keep nostalgia from hitting us. Sweet sauce with crunchy veggies, tender chicken bits, crunchy noodles and a soft Chinese omelette at the crown, delicious.


Desserts

Despite being most excited for the dessert they didn’t really live up to our expectations. The Nutty Banana & Nutella Cake was more of a mawa slice cake topped with banana slices and some nutella… a bit too dry for the tongue. The mudcake was moist and oozing with chocolate sauce but didn’t really hit the spot . 


To sum it up, this place is great to catch up with a friend or even a quite bite with family. What one may question is the price, but given the location is seems quite right. A special mention to the manager John, whose positive and jolly attitude was quite infectious.