Purplicious!

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Growing up, I didn’t care much for aubergine. It was one of those vegetables that just so happened to be part of the week’s repertoire. Also, I didn’t quite appreciate how its seedy gut oozed out once Mum was done roasting it on an open flame.

But as a food journalist you get bored ordering things that you know — for a fact — are good, and experiment with the unknown instead. At times you also want to test restaurants by trying out items that aren’t popular with the public.

This instinct (and instruction) led me to ordering Berenjaras Rellenas, baked aubergine with goat cheese, at Poco Loco in Bandra. Needless to say, aubergines soon became an obsession. I was ordering auberjine pakodas and sabji at Indian restaurants, and picked the most fragrant basil for the pesto sauce on the aubergine carpaccio I was cooking as a staple. I even wrote a feature about it for The Indian Express, much to the amusement of my editor who claims to have foreseen the headline: Purple Fever. Ah well. She knows me. She truly does.

Full feature here

Photo taken in a friend’s kitchen, Mumbai

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Dish Pick | Pani Puri in Hasnabad Market

I have a confession to make… It’s silly really. But it’s important. Here goes: I have a fear of Paani Puri. Phew! There, I’ve said it and I feel so much better!

You see, the puffed up puris filled to the brim with sweet and spicy water and those little crispy boondis make me nervous. It’s just too big a bite to swallow and I’m constantly afraid that a shard of crispy puri will break away and get lodged in my throat, cutting through my wind pipe. I can already hear my boyfriend snickering as he reads this.

But what I have is a legitimate fear! One that haunts me as much as my arachnophobia and nyctophobia. But if you aren’t me, you definitely want to try pani puris in Bombay. Punjab Sweet House and Elco Market in Bandra are popular favourites. But you may also want to swing by and give the guy in Santacruz market a try.

Ok, so I did try one pani puri this evening — sometimes we must test our own theories to ensure that we aren’t totally insane. And it wasn’t bad. The balance of sweet and spicy was perfect and the puri was as sharp, sorry, crisp as they come. It’s definitely a good pitstop to make on an evening out buying saris and dress materials.

Photo taken @ Santacruz Market, Mumbai

Dish Pick | A Bite Of the Blue Apple

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Gorgonzola Dolce — it’s a mouthful to say, but an absolute delight to eat. Served with slices of apple, walnuts and greens, the blue cheese sandwich is a feast for the senses. The pungent taste and smell of the Gorgonzola goes beautifully with the sweetness of the apples. The crunch of the nuts just makes you anticipate every bite even more.

The mustard and salsa sauces in addition to the tin-bowl salad in the corner add a bit of colour and drama to the overall presentation. But trust me, they’re completely wasted on this sandwich because it has been crafted to self-sufficiency.

Photo taken at The Pantry, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

Dish Pick | Spiced Pomfret with Long Grain Rice

Ordering off the specials board always pays off. Loved the spiced pomfret with long grain rice at Salt Water Cafe, Bandra this afternoon. I give it 3.5/5 because the fish was tender and juicy. Would have given it 4/5 but the masalas a little too charred for my liking.

Molecular Mumbai

“We’re off to the UK next week and guess where we’ve got reservations…”

“Where?”

“The Fat Duck!”

“The Fat Duck?”

“The Fat Duck!!”

“Not THE Fat Duck!”

“Yes, THE Fat Duck!”

There was a time a few years ago when people didn’t know what or who The Fat Duck was. But these days, I’ve been meeting a lot of people planning their travels around their reservations at molecular or Michelin restaurants. This could mean a lot of things — Indians like food, Indians want more varieties of food, Indians have the means to spend copious amounts of money on food and food-related experiences, the list is endless.

But while I encountered jet-setters in search of different types and techniques — especially molecular gastronomy after El Bulli shuttering became international news — very few of them knew that food science is already implemented at select restaurants in Mumbai.

It was a fascinating feature once I’d collated all the details but the prize winning revelation was that the lack of awareness owed itself to the chefs not wanting to publicise how and why science got on their dinner plates.

Really? Really! Here’s why: Science on the Dinner Place for The Indian Express.

Photo from MolecularGastronomyNetwork.com