Smokehouse Deli @ Phoenix Mills

Today was Anna Shetty’s last day of her five day break and we decided to spend it in a toyland paradise otherwise known as Hamley’s. Ever since that iconic London shop opened a branch at Mumbai’s Phoenix Mills Mall, I have wanted to take my own daughter now a mother herself to this shop. Hamleys’ is always magical whether the bubbles are blowing or not and  undoubtedly her little boy enjoyed himself but  all that excitement and running around whetted our appetities and before we knew it ,  it was time for us to re-charge with our mid-day meal.

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The Bar

Ever since I met my husband three decades ago, I’ve eaten so much  Chinese food that my father was convinced that our first child would be a noodle. Luckily it turned out to be a lovely baby girl who has now matured into a young lady. Our favourite haunt those days used to be Chopsticks at Churchgate but we soon shifted loyalites to China Garden of Nelson Wang fame. However, its charm soon began to fade and thus began my search for the perfect Chinese food.

I heard of Mamagoto simply by chance when I was surfing the net for Chinese restaurants around town. When I found it was in Fort, I was all the more determined to visit but could never figure out exactly where it was on the Google map till one day I happened to dine at The Pantry two months’ ago which  is when I discovered it was bang opposite the restaurant Mamagoto! Since then I’ve been actually dreaming of going there, a wish that was fulfilled last week.

We made a prior reservation and when the restaurant actually checked back to see whether we were showing up it seemed like a good omen – one that doesn’t encourage walk-ins and was checking ahead meant that it was popular.But once past the main door, I realised that this was not a classy restaurant but a simple home style Irani Restaurant turned Chinese!  The ground floor was dominated by the bar in the corner and a big staircase leading to the mezzanine which had most of the seating. There were naked bulbs hanging all over the place and the ceiling on the mezzanine was covered with different coloured swags. The overall ambiance was a friendly family especially with the loud music that played over the conversation.

Veg Khow Sway
Veg Khow Sway

Distinctly disappointed at discovering that this was not the great Chinese restaurant I had expected it to be, I was happy that the waiters and servers made up with their attentiveness and response to customers. Presented with the menu, we were told that it was a dry day and that we could get a free mocktail if we ordered from their set menu of MAMATIFFIN a three cuisine option ( Chinese Rs.349, Malay Rs. 349 and Thai Rs. 391) . Hubby Dear went for the MamaTiffin Chinese which was a choice of soup, noodle or rice and a main dish. He chose his favourite Hot & Sour Soup, Haka Noodles and Stir Fried Veg. Despite my quest for the best Chinese food, I succumbed to my preference for Khow Sway and ordered the vegetarian version . I wasn’t disappointed as the Khow Sway was flavourful with vegetables that were crispy and in plenty.

Overall we had a pleasant enough lunch – easy on the wallet and easy on the  palate.

This restaurant is ideal for casual dining and young families.

If it’s Winter – there must be Undhya ( even if you are diabetic and hypertensive)

Since the beginning of this month our mild Mumbai winter has made its gentle presence felt especially early in the morning which is slightly nippy  and late in the evening when a distinct layer of smog fuzzes up my otherwise stunning view of the Queen’s Necklace. Winter time means Undhya time. Undhyia, Undhyo or Undhya or whichever way you call it, brings to drool the diehard is Mumbaikars drool, especially the vegetarian variety. This spicy mixed vegetable has its origins in its homestate of Gujerat and has been imported to Mumbai by the vast Gujerati population particularly the Surtis who have for generations made it their home.
But as is the case with every dish, there is no standard way to make it, each family having its own variation. This morning when I went to the market (not really advisable since Sunday is a lean day and most vegetables are left over from the day before) I was tempted by the heap of vegetables that go into making the traditional Gujerati Undhya :  Baskets of Yam, baby potatoes, small brinjal, sweet potato, raw green banana, fresh green garlic,shelled pigeon peas, green field beans, flat beans all seemed to call out to me to buy them and try them. So like Alice who couldn’t resist temptation, I succumbed and brought them home with me.
I have never really been an afficionado of this dish largely because it is heavily spiced and far  too oily for me but with Hubby Dear having strict dietary restrictions, and bored with the standard daily fare, I decided to modify this dish to suit him, taking advantage of the fact that no two Undhya are the same and that every family has its own version of the authentic stuff.
So here’s my version of this famous dish.
For the Masala or spice paste :
4 tbspns (or more as per your taste) Kapol’s Surti Undhya Masala
2 tbspns freshly ground coconut
2 tbspns peanut powder
1/2 lemon juice
1 tspn garlic ginger paste
1/2 tspn turmeric
1/2 tspn red chilli powder
1/4 tspn asoefetida (hing)
The Vegetables I used were:
3 small brinjal
1 small sweet potato
1 small yam (kand)
a handful of fenugreek leaves (methi) finely chopped
1/2 cup of green garlic finely chopped
100 g of pigeon peas ( tuvar dana)
100 g of field beans ( papdi/vaal)
100 g of flat field beans (papdi)
For the tempering :
2 tbspns of Canola Oil
What I did:
1) I trimmed off the moustaches  (roots) of the green garlic and washed it and chopped it really fine.
2) I peeled the yam and sweet potato and cut them into bite sized pieces.
3) I chopped the fenugreek leaves finely.
4) I washed the beans and strung the flat field beans.
5) I trimmed off the stem of the brinjal and slit them crosswise and stuffed them with some of the masala paste.
6) In a flat pressure pan, I heated the oil and then added the beans, yam and sweet potato. I sauted them for a bit and then added a cup of water. I covered the pan with a stainless steel dish ( thali) and allowed it to come to a boil.
7) I then added the fenugreek leaves, the brinjal and green garlic leaves and the remaining masala paste. I gave it a good stir and added half a cup of water and salt to taste.
8) I covered the pan with the pressure pan lid, put on the pressure and allowed the vegetable to cook for 4 whistles.
9) I allowed the pressure to fall on its own before serving the Undhya.
Traditionally Undhya is made in the winter and according to some of my friends was traditionally cooked by placing the pot in the earth and allowed to cook slowly during the whole day…..I don’t know how far this is true but I do know that this vegetable is a must in the cold winter months in Gujerat and is an absolute MUST.  Each Gujerati family has its own special Undhya, which they would gladly invite you to share rather than part with their secret recipe!
So if you don’t have a Gujerati friend and you want to go easy on the calories, try this one for an almost genuine Undhya experience
Disclaimer : I am aware that this is not the original recipe and apologize to the  purists who know their Undhya. It is quite different from the traditional one but as I stated earlier, it is adapted especially for people with diabetes and hypertension. To make the real stuff you will add  Muthiya (which I substituted with plain methi leaves), potato and raw banana (which I omitted),bits of cucumber and lots of oil (which I substituted with Canola oil)

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When good and wholesome is absolutely yum

Unfortunately more often than not good and wholesome is also sorely lacking in taste. For the past two months we’ve been following a diet that has been good and wholesome – fatless, sugarless, saltless and unfortunately often tasteless. Of course this has led to a cumulative weight loss of at least 15 kilos ( for the entire family) but has also led to severe cravings to eat something good and wholesome and simultaneously YUM.

Fada and whipped yogurt

Returning home  from a day out on our “farm” I had this absolute urge to eat something different, something wholesome, something specially meant for a chilly February evening. So I thought of rustling up some “Fada nu Khichada” or a vegetarian wheat based khichadi, my all time favourite  at the iconic eatery SWATI in downtown Mumbai famous for its “snakes” . Khichada is a mix of rice and lentil and was normally served in my home while growing up, on wet rainy days or when the tummy sorely needed some special care.

So I took 2/3  cup  broken wheat, 1/3 cup  moong dal and washed them together and let them soak for around 5 minutes. While they were soaking, I peeled a potato and cut half of it into tiny wedges, chopped half a tomato into small wedges, and cut up two florets of cauliflower into tiny pieces and cut four French beans into tiny pieces.

I added 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pressure pan and let it heat up on high heat taking care not to burn it. When it was hot, I added 1 green cardamom, 1/2 ” piece of cinnamon, 4 cloves and 4 pepper corns. To this I added a pinch of asafetida  1/4 tspn  each of turmeric and red chilli powder. Then I drained off the water and added the broken wheat and dal  to the spice mix sizzling in the pan. I sauted it for a bit and then added the vegetables and continued sauteing for another minute or so taking care not to scald it. To this I added 1/2 a cup of  whipped curd, 1/2 tspn salt and 1 1/2  cups of water to cook the khichada. Khichada is gooey and well cooked so it needs more water than normal i.e. the total quantity of liquid should be twice that of the dry ingredients. I added some salt, put on the lid and the pressure and allowed it to cook for 4 whistles.

I am now going to eat it with whipped curd over which I poured some red chilli powder in hot ghee and perhaps a deep  fried udid dal papad to provide the crunch…………..

If this is not wholesome and yum, I wonder what is!

If you allow the wheat and dal to soak for longer, you will have to cook it for less whistles ( 3) and you can reduce the quantity of water as well. Khichada starts drying up as it cools down so you may have to add some more water  just before serving ( and of course heat it up!) to make it gooey

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