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Nuts about Nuts : Turkish Delight from Azerbaijan

I woke up this morning to find that a sister in law had just flown in from Baku, Azerbaijan. She presented me with a gorgeously wrapped box that I just had to photograph and share.

Image of a gift from AzerbaijanI am a real sucker for gift wrapping and wanted to keep the box just the way it was so that my grandsons could open it when they came home this evening.

But I am even more curious than the cat, so I quickly opened it to find an assortment of Turkish Delight that I’d never seen before.
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A sister-in-law just flew in from Azerbaijan early this morning and brought along a box of the most delicious Azerbaijani sweets. It was an interesting array of Turkish Delight from a famous shop in Baku called XURJUN ( pronounced Khur Jun) . With a strong Arabic influence, it resembled the Karachi halwa that is ever so popular in India. In fact it reminded me of the Halwa I got from the Dubai Mall earlier this year.

Turkish Delight is a sugar and starch sweet meat that is a popular Arabic dish. It has a soft chewy texture that children often love. It lasts long ( rather it keeps long) though in our house it barely lasted the week!

Have you had Turkish Delight before?

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Daytime lounging at #Farzi Cafe

Not being a Lounge Lizard , I had no idea what to expect at Farzi Cafe which I found out was actually a lounge bar and not really a cafe.

Why Farzi?

It all started with Daughter No 1’s desire to try out the new eating places in town. After a shout out to my foodie friends for recommendations, we decided on Farzi Cafe  which is in Kamala City, in the heart of Mumbai ‘s erstwhile mill district ( Lower Parel) . Since Lower doesn’t sound very classy, this area has become ”Upper Worli” when it was gentrified.

Hence , when we asked for directions, the girl at Farzi said we could come from anywhere . We soon found out a horrendous traffic jam later that this is not true. In fact the best way to get there ( at least till the redevelopment is over ) is from Gate No. 4. Once you enter it is still quite a trudge so don’t give up your transport till you actually reach the restaurant.

Inside the Cafe

Once in, the darkness was a stark contrast to the bright sunshine we had just stepped away from. We were led to a sofa table mainly to accommodate our little one whom we couldn’t leave at home.  We realised later that this place is most inappropriate for children. I also realised that it is not a place for people less than 6 ft tall because even when I stretched my spine to its fullest, I could barely scrape the top of the table . And when I had to take aerial shots of the food , I not only had to stand up but raise my arm up high to get a somewhat decent bird’s eye view.

The menu was unusual to say the least : innovative and refreshing . The waiter advised us to order just two starters as they were sufficient to fill us up ! Alas! They didn’t and we ordered a third. We probably would have ordered a dessert as well but they didn’t seem too exciting.

The amuse bouche  served amid a cloud of smoke was truly delightful : a tiny globule of mishti doi with just a hint of strawberry jus.

The entire meal was like a magic show with unexpected tastes and flavours  when the lamb tacos turned out to be none other than the familiar salli boti wrapped in a crisp wheat taco. Or what was more intriguing ? The Hajmola sorbet served as twigs on a tree?

The ultimate surprise though was the candy floss gujia stuffed with paan! We didn’t expect such a treat. But the bill  presented in an old fashioned typewriter was the icing on the cake so to speak!

So Farzi Cafe was a dining experience that was fun and fanciful with great food to make the trek worthwhile.  Hearty eaters please note – the portions are quite small and if you really were to eat to your heart’s content be sure to shell out a pretty packet .

Verdict :  Definitely worth going especially for a fun evening in town.

Caveat: Guests should make prior reservations to avoid disappointment. Night times are particularly lively so not suitable for the oldie goldies

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ROYCE’ no Plain Jane chocolate

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a guilty pleasure

The two of us were enjoying a cup of coffee in J’s open terrace one morning, when her uniformed bearer came in with a box of chocolates. It was a birth announcement addressed to her mother in law.

J asked him to keep it on her bed and we continues with our conversation. Suddenly, her curiosity got the better of her and she went inside and brought the box out.

“She’s not returning for a week. Let’s just try one! ”

As she opened the box, we both felt the thrill of girls breaking a school rule. We took a chocolate each and slipped it into our mouths , unconsciously looking over our shoulders for a Prefect to catch us eating in class. As the chocolate melted and the hidden taste of orange hit our palates, we reached out for the next. And the next and the next. It wasn’t long before they were all over.

“She doesn’t eat chocolate , anyway, ” she said as the last bit of bitter sweetness swirled around in our mouths .

That guilty pleasure remains with me whenever I pass a chocolate shop and I quickly look away before I succumb to the temptation of indulging in a bite of sin.

A bite of royce’

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I always wondered what ROYCE‘  tasted like, every time I walked by the shop at Palladium. What was so special about it that everyone whispered around it in reverential tones? Was it bitter? Was it soft and creamy?

Yesterday , I found out ,when I was gifted a box of pure pleasure.

no Plain jane

Carefully removing it from the blue cool bag it was packed in , I gently removed the ice bag and slowly opened up the slim box. Removing the inner plastic cover, I must confess my disappointment at seeing row upon row of plain chocolate finely dusted with cocoa. Where were the fancy curls and swirls? Or the bits of nut ?

But the moment it’s bitter sweetness assaulted my taste buds, I knew just why .

The bite sized pieces were just right . They were soft and creamy as they melted in my mouth, filling it up with a sweetness and bitterness that was …. well …perfect balanced.

Unassuming and unpretentious , they were small but packed  a punch .

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A new idea Pops Up at Kemp’s Corner

Mumbaikars are always on the look out for new places to eat and new foods to eat . The other day I found a completely new idea popping up at Kemps Corner – the Pop-Up Hut.

It is literally a hole in the wall or rather a small little eatery in the courtyard of an old building accessed by a tarpaulin lined alleyway. Walking past the funky art work, I came upon this tiny little outlet featuring fruit based ice cream. Since the concept of the restaurant is to have a new cuisine featured every week ( or at least every month), this is bound to go down well with the neighbourhood diners who always want updated menus at their favourite eating places.

I just had to explore the back story and interviewed Sanjana who very kindly spared time to answer my questions:

 

  1. What gave you this idea to have a pop up restaurant?

I feel this area is lacking interesting food concepts and ideas and wanted to introduce as many as possible.. Thus came the idea of changing pop-ups so that it would be interesting and exciting for customers and I could promote different food concepts and chefs

  1. How many can it seat? From what I saw it is just a counter really. Or do you plan to make it a takeaway or home delivery?

Yes, it is both a takeaway and home delivery plus we have a 4-5 people seating in the form of stools and a bench.

  1. How does one feature on your menu? Do you invite chefs/restaurants/caterers to set up shop for a week? Do you encourage private home caterers like housewives, small entrepreneurs?

Yes we encourage absolutely anyone interested in new food concepts and ideas and our only criteria is that it should be unique and delicious!!!

  1. How do you ensure quality in terms of product and service?

We curate pop-ups that can provide only high quality products and services and are selective with our pop-ups when it comes to this criteria. I personally over-see the kitchen and service as well.

  1. How will you staff be able to cope with different cuisines e.g. ice cream is handled differently from Chinese.

We will hire staff that is capable and skilled to handle the particular cuisine.

  1. What kind of cuisines do you plan on featuring?

We will be displaying desserts, savory products, hot food and almost any and every cuisine that we can.

 

So now that you know the back story, what are you waiting for? Go visit Pop-Up Hut today at

Kwality House-Alleyway, Next to Crossword, Kemps Corner, Mumbai

It’s open from  3 PM to 12 Midnight

But do call before going to check what’s on the menu!

+91 9819334698
00 02223820887

This restaurant was first featured in Mumbai On A High 
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What is the Bohri Kitchen?

My first experience with Bohri food was when my friend Nilu invited me to her cousin’s wedding feast. At that time, I must confess that the thought of eating in a communal plate or thaal was a bit daunting, but when I saw that the thaal was more or less like a table top with everyone eating out of their own little plates, I really enjoyed the entire experience . Since then Bohri food has become one of my favourite foods and I even make it a point to visit the Bohri mohalla during Ramzaan and enjoy their street food.

There’s nothing more authentic than eating Bohri food in a thaal, however, getting a Bohri friend to organise a thaal can be a bit of a fiddle as it is a lot of hard work so I was thrilled when I heard about The Bohri Kitchen, that offers a thaal-in-a- box every day of the week.

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             This neatly packed disposable thaal in a box had a fixed menu – a russian kebab, chicken biryani, kashmiri aaloo and dudhi halwa

What began as a weekend  home dining experience  for 8 lucky  people who were invited to partake of a typically home cooked meal at the Kapadia’s,  has now snowballed into a full fledged kitchen from where Munaf could keep up with the orders for home delivery.

Munaf Kapadia, Chief Eating Officer ( read Founder and CEO) of the Bohri Kitchen very kindly shared a few thoughts with me. 

How did you come up with The Bohri Kitchen?

My mother is a great cook and I felt that more people needed to eat her fabulous food like samosa and raan. So we started out with the home dining concept  where we served a 6 course meal in typical Bohri style at Rs. 1500 per head. This led to many requests for home deliveries which shot up so much that we had no option but to go in for a kitchen to meet  the home deliveries.

So does that make the food homestyle as opposed to home made?

Not really because my mother is very involved with  how the food is made. She has personally trained the chefs so this is as good as her own home cooked food.

How different is your food from the regular caterers like Jeff?

Our target is the non-Bohri so our food is slightly less greasy than the regular community caterers.

Your menu seems rather limited. Do you plan to expand it?

Currently our menu is a small curated version because we still have to work out the logisitics. We do plan on changing the menu every season and having three options for the thaal. But apart from that we don’t want to diversify too much and dilute the quality or the brand.

As your kitchen expands will you still continue your home dining?

Yes of course! As long as my mom is willing .

How does one get invited to your home?

This venture has been such a success that prior booking is a must. This weekend we are completely sold out because we will stop home dining during Ramzaan. Ordinarily I would advise people to book at least a week in advance.

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  Image taken from official website

Any plans on opening a restaurant or a regular catering service? 

Not really.

With that I came to the end of my questions. I do hope the iftar box works so that I can eat some yummy Bohri food fin  the comfort of my home

Do try the Bohri Kitchen’s online delivery service if you can’t make it to their weekend home dining option.

Available for delivery from Cuffe Parade to Mahim (same day) and Powai (next day).

Available on www.thebohrikitchen.com or Scootsy, Swiggy and Zomato !

Happy eating!

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