What & Where of Shopping in Uttarakhand

During our Uttarakhand roadtrip last summers, we didn’t go to any of the regular tourist towns. And hence no Nainitaal, Almora, Ranikhet etc. However, this meant, we wouldn’t get to go to the regular shopping areas too. The offbeat road we took, starting from Jeolikote and going on to Abbott Mount,Jhaltola, Munsiyari, Chakori, Binsar and finally, Gagar, didn’t offer any shopping ‘paradises’. This was a big blow to our otherwise regular practice of bringing back handicrafts, clothing or even little trinkets from here and there. Nonetheless, we asked around everywhere we went and brought back some of the best things that Uttarakhand has to offer:

 Honey from Jeolikote: Jeolikote has a horticulture department and it was awfully close to Jeolikote Cottage where we stayed. The owner, Ms Bhuvan Kumari, had strongly advised us to get a couple of bottles from there as the honey was pure and cheap at Rs 300 a kg. We simply had to walk down the hillock where we were and the horticulture department would be right in front of us. We did just that. But while we saw the bee hives and boxes, and also found the office to be open, the guy in charge of the honey had been on leave. The officials directed us to the shop across the road. We did find the same honey albeit at double the rates – Rs 300 for half a kg.

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 Clothes from Avani: Devika and Kavita, at the Misty Mountains (Read Review of Misty Mountains in Jhaltola) in Jhaltola, had, upon our enquiry, told us that Avani was the best place to buy stoles, sweater, Komouni jackets from. The best part was thatAvani fell on our way to Munsiyari, our destination from Jhaltola. Just a half an hour drive from the Misty Mountains, Avani is  is run by the Kumouni women. A somewhat big building that has scores of women weavers weaving rugs, stoles, and sarees, Avani also sources most of its products directly from the villages and sells them directly to the customers from its outlet, thereby doing away with the middlemen cost. I bought wool jackets from there, but found the prices to be somewhat high. Later in Binsar, Sindhu did tell us that the products from Avani are available much cheaper at the villages….but then, until you are with a local, you wouldn’t know where exactly to go. Nevertheless,Avani has a good stock of woolen sarees, stoles, jackets for both men and women, and if you are lucky, you will get on for your little one too. We did. They also have a number of crochet kids dresses.

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 Trinkets from Munsiyari: Well, Munsiyari (Read: Sight-seeing in Munsiyari) doesn’t have must of a tourists’ shop. The one local market that is there caters to the residents and deas with their everyday use products. But by now, I had taken fancy to the Kumouni silver necklace and earrings. And went to a local jeweler to lay my hand on whatever I got. They normally work on orders placed with specific designs, and have very few over-the-counter options. Nonetheless, both a couple of pieces. You need to negotiate well.

 Shop at Panchachuli: These are a chain of handcrafts shops scattered all over Uttarakhand. Run, once again, primarily by women, these shops too offer good products such as honey, oil and other natural produce, soaps, pickles, shawls, stoles, sarees and woolens. Prices are on the higher side, although not as bad as Avani.

Stay at the Soulitude in Gagar, Uttarakhand

The 3-day blissful stay at the Grand Oak Manor (Read review: Stay at the Grand Oak Manor) had probably set the tone, or was it the distress over the fact that our holiday was coming to an end? Both, I think. And so, when we reached our hotel in Gagar, a boutique one at that, we were quite sure, we’d make the most of the remaining two days and two nights doing, NOTHING. The Manager told us that we could go for a couple of treks here and there, but no, we didn’t want to step out. We simply wanted to while away the remaining days, hours savouring the lovely place, loitering around the garden, parking ourselves here or there with a book or a chat, making a list of who all to meet and what all to buy while at the one-day stopover at Delhi on our way back to Mumbai.

Plus Soulitude gave us every reason to stay put – their’s is a boutique hotel from the word go! The entire house, the annexxe, the gardens have been done up extremely thoughtfully and stylishly. Not without reason do they call it Soulitude. For when here, you shun the outside world, and revel in the enclosure of the hills, the sun-washed decks that look out into the hills, the charming garden where every flower and every accessory is a discovery and a joy, where the endless cups of tea simply add to your sense of contentment, where you will find yourself claiming corners of the house and their inviting chairs be it with a book or, once again, a cup of chai or coffee.

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On our first day at the Soulitude, we were the only guests. And so, upon our request, the Manager showed us every room, every suite. The detailing that has gone into making every room, be it the elegant upholstery or the pretty knick-knacks, or the scenic view from the rooms, simply bowled us over.  The little dining space, the big living room, and the study too were extremely delightful. Although they have a nice little bar corner too, they do not have license to operate it. Pity. For this is exactly that sort of a stylish place where you’d love a drink or two before dinner. The little library is reasonably well stacked, although, we simply floated around the house without doing much..neither read, nor wrote…

Food is reasonably good at the Soulitude. It’s mostly an Indian fare, or else, the regular pasta, chowmein when they have more guests. The evening we were alone, the chef tried impressing us with a couple of local fare such as their Mawa Malpua and a couple of Kumouni curries. Internet connectivity is reasonably good here. Your phone will connect to the network, plus there is wifi in every room.

Stay at Soulitude if you like style, quiet and beauty……..

 

 

Gagar — 7th Halt in our Uttarakhand Road-trip

The final halt in our Uttarakhand roadtrip, Gagar is a tiny dot some 9-10 kilometers ahead of Nainitaal. The reason we chose the place was because we didn’t want to drive straight 8-9 hours from Binsar to Pantnagar. Gagar, with promises of ‘there is nothing much to do here’, seemed to be the perfect stop.

Drive from Binsar to Gagar: Via Almora and Nathuakhan, Gagar is about 90 kilometers a downhill drive from Binsar (Read: Binsar — 6th halt in our Uttarakhand road-trip). That meant, it would be a hot and dusty drive. Thankfully, dreading the dusty roads, we had booked an AC car, which stood us in good stead after Nathuakhan – the road was being repaired here and hence, in a kucchastate for quite a good bit until Gagar. On the way from Binsar, I had hoped to buy some local/traditional handicrafts from Almora. However, our cab driver wasn’t willing, or so I felt, since he warned us that the handicrafts shops were all inside the Almora town, and that, going in would mean an hour more to the journey. Plus, our hotel atGagar had called to say that lunch would be kept ready for us. And so, we gave shopping a miss, heading straight for Gagar.

Mostly a scenic drive, it gets even more picturesque after Nathukhan. The hills are dotted with beautiful cottages, summer homes of the city folks. We, admit, went green with envy. A little cottage by the hillside with flower and fruit trees is our ultimate dream!!!

Hotel Review: Soulitude in Gagar, Uttarakhand, India

Staying at the Soulitude in Gagar: The 3-day blissful stay at the Grand Oak Manor had probably set the tone, or was it the distress over the fact that our holiday was drawing to an end? Both, I think. And so, when we reached our hotel in Gagar, a boutique one at that, we were quite sure, we’d make the most of the remaining two days and two nights. The Manager told us that we could go for a couple of treks here and there, but we were sure we didn’t want to step out. We simply wanted to while away the remaining moments doing nothing. The idea was to savor the lovely place, loiter around the garden, park ourselves here or there with a book or a chat, make a list of who all to meet and what all to buy while at the one-day stopover at Delhi (Read: Review of Soulitude in Gagar, Uttarakhand)

Hotel Review: Soulitude in Gagar, Uttarakhand, India

Things to do in Gagar: Well, that’s a misnomer. There is nothing to do in Gagar. Other than gaze into the hills and Himalayas. And go trekking.

 

Sight-Seeing in Binsar, Uttarakhand

We were sure we didn’t want to budge from the premises of Grand Oak Manor when in Binsar, but Sindhu, the owner, insisted we go see the cluster of Jageshwar temples some 60 kms downhill. That discouraged us even more, for 60 kms in the hills is about 2 and a half hours one way. Plus, for us, religion is not about visiting temples, and we get seriously scared by the sea of crowd in the Indian temples. But Sindhu persisted with the reasoning that the temples were known for their architecture and history too. And so we gave in and gave the Jageshwartrip one precious day. And our cab driver told us that enroute we could see a few more interesting places as well. So be it, we said…

Jageshwar Temples: Jageshwar is actually a cluster of about 120 temples dedicated to numerous Gods, chief among them being Shiva. Famous for its Jyotirlings, Jageshwar draws pilgrims from every part of the country. It in fact is regarded as one of the Dhams, pilgrimages, in the country. The temples are one of the oldest in the country, dating back to about 2500 years.

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Dandeshwar Temples: And then are the Dandeshwar temples, a little ahead of the Jageshwar temples. A cluster of 13-14 temples only and touted to be one of the biggest and tallest, we liked Dandeshwar more as there was absolutely no crowd here. Upon seeing us, a  Purohit did come in the hope that we would offer prayers, but sensing our disinterest, wandered away. We spent a great deal of time loitering around the premises thinking how temples can be a wonderful place without a flood of devotees and the accompanying noise and nuisance. The deohar trees in the hills behind provide a lovely view, and you at one feel like going for a trek. We were told that many tourists come here for the treks too. Once upon a time the temple housed a very popular and expensive bronze status of Pona Raja. It has been shifted to the Museum for safety now.

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Archaeological Museum: While at the temples site, make sure you also go to the archaeological museum that houses the actual sculpture of the deities in the Jageshwar and the Dandeshwar temples. The statues have been taken from the temples and housed in the high security museum owing to the risks from smugglers. In fact, the guide will tell you stories how the Pona Raja statue from Dandeshwar Temple had been stolen but had been recovered from the Delhi airport just when it was about to be shipped out.

Early-Man Caves: A half an hour drive from Jageshwar Temple will bring to the hill that has the caves with inscriptions from early man times. Stop by for a quick peek and photo.

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Ghanta Mandir: Here was a mandir that was unlike any other we had seen until now– a temple  that was full of bells of all sizes….made of brass, of varying thickness, their sounds carry deep into the forests. We went about ringing all of them – big- small, high-low, light-heavy and we’re thrilled by the sounds they produced.

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The restaurant opposite Ghanta Mandir is also where we had our lunch. Not clean and good by any standards, but this was the best that we found in the entire route. By then, close to 3pm, we were famished and on the verge of begging. The only good thing about the restaurant, was that food was fresh. Jayanta ate paneer and tandoori roti, while I and our daughter made do with plain rice and anchar.

 

 

Stay at the Grand Oak Manor in Binsar, Uttarakhand

Perched on a hillock, which the handsome owners claimed, was one of the highest in Kumaon, the Grand Oak Manor had been built by the Commissioner of Kumaon way back during the British days. The hill had been chosen for the strategic view it offered of the rest of the hills and hamlets in the region. Picked up by Sindhu’s (present owner) great grand father around the time the Brits left the country, Sindhu turned his inheritance into a boutique hotel, and now, run it along with his wife Shikha, offering an exclusive experience of living in the hills in complete harmony with Nature. Call them for a booking enquiry and the first thing they will warn you of is the fact that Grand Oak Manor doesn’t own a television set. You either bounce off after that, or stick to the thought of visiting the dame. We stuck. And looked forward to it….

We reached Binsar after a long and somewhat dreary drive from Chaukoli (Read: Binsar — 6th Halt in our Uttarakhand Roadtrip). Grand Oak Manor is located about 7 kilometers inside the Binsar Reserve. However, the last bit, about 700 meters, is a rough climb through a kuchharoad, and the hotel sends its own jeep to fetch the guests. Ratanda (our driver) though was convinced that his Innova could make it till the hotel. We said fine, and bumped along just like how we had at the Misty Mountains in Jhaltola, to find a magnificient Oak tree standing in guard for this magnificent bungalow, all resplendent in the afternoon sun — the Grand Oak Manor!

As our bags were being taken in, we signed off with Ratanda. He had been a part of our Uttarakhand road trip this far, but Binsar onwards, we had been advised to take point-to-point taxi.

And as the hotel staff handed us refreshing glasses of rhododendron juice, Sindhu and Shikha greeted us and oriented us about the Grand Oak Manor. They needn’t have, really. For, we were in love with the place at the very first sight. The stately rooms living and reading rooms, the lovely grounds, the charming chapel under the Oak tree, the old stables over-looking the hills, the hammock here, the stone table there, all that we wanted to do was run up to our room, shower, and get back to the porch or the grounds to live that bright afternoon to the hilt. And we did just that. After a hearty lunch though, for, it was piping hot and waiting for us.

Ah! The food at Grand Oak Manor. They spoilt us. Lunches were the basic and extremely home-like Dal-Chawal-Roti-Sabzi-Chicken and so were the breakfasts – Paranthas-breads-milk-juice-omelette etc. The dinners were elaborate — an array of different cuisines. They caught us by surprise every evening. And we jumped with joy each time. The first night, it was a delectable Continental spread laid out in the first floor verandah with beautiful lanterns around us. God! Were we bowled over by the gesture!!! Imagine the darkness of the hills in front of you, chill of the evening setting in, lanterns around you and you are being served your dinner in courses. Just Wow!! One of the most beautiful dinners ever, we simply need to close our eyes to relive the joy we felt that evening.

The next evening, food was a rich spread of Kumouni cuisine. Starting from the brass thal, bowls and the glasses to the breads and curries and chutneys, everything was Kumouni. We couldn’t thank Shikha enough for arranging this for us. For, everywhere we went in Uttarakhand, it had been the usual Indian food. But for the awesome chef at Grand Oak Manor and her thoughtful hosts, we wouldn’t have known or eaten the Kumouni food at all.

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Stationed at the Grand Oak Manor for 3 days, we longed to do nothing.  Not even go sight-seeing around Binsar (which we eventually did though). Yes, we did go for the customary morning, evening guided treks, but those were faily easy ones and no, we didn’t go out in the hope of sighting the snow-clad Himalayas or the leopards of the jungle. By now, the hills had driven us to a content state. We were content to park ourselves on the stone railing and brood away. Or chase the birds and butterflies. Or look into the hills and sing. Our daughter was content chasing and trying to dig out lizards assisted by Sindhu!!! Twice I did try to sit with my laptop and write, but couldn’t. The three days of stay there had blacked out my mind completely. All I could do was look out for the beautiful birds, gape at the magnificent trees, marvel at the beauty of such a basic lifestyle, request for endless rounds of lemon tea, sit with my daughter to sketch the charming chapel under the oak tree, sail with the clouds, eat Kaphal ( a wild red berry that grew in abundance this time of the year) seasoned with salt and jeerapowder……all three of us were convinced that we could live the rest of our life this way. Oh why did we have to get back to our regular city life? Why? Why? Why?

 

Binsar – 6th Halt in Our Uttarakhand Road-trip

Binsar was the second last leg of our Uttarakhand trip, the 6th halt  in our road trip. Despite being on our 9th day in the roads, the excitement of the hills and the Himalayas had not ebbed in any manner. On the contrary, by now, we were filled with a strong desire to explore yet some more. So what if we had seen the magnificent peaks of Panchchouli up and close from Munsiyari? One couldn’t tire of them here in Uttarakhand. Instead, the love affair only deepened. You would want to see them from everywhere. And then there were the almost life-inducing treks. We had grown so so used to over the days…those, too, demanded that we hit the hills every morning and evening. Binsar promised all these. Yet again…

Drive from Chaukori to Binsar: Binsar is 90 kms away from Chakori. We maintained the same regime…start off an hour after breakfast and try to reach the next destination by lunch time. We did just that for Binsar too. However, the route entailed we drive downhill by about 50 kms, beyond which, the uphill drive started once again. It was at this point that the drive got a little dreary. For, in the hills, they do not switch on the AC while driving uphill. And although the downhill drive was an AC ride, the comfort was soon lost to dust, fumes and heat on our way up. We were sure we needed another shower when we’d reach the Grand Oak Manor.

Staying in Grand Oak Manor in Binsar: Ah! That was undoubtedly the biggest draw of Binsar….Located 7kms inside the Binsar Wildlife
Sanctuary, the place ensures you are cut off from civilisation. No car
honks, handful of humans around you, no television, hardly any net
connectivity….there is no way you wouldn’t connect with nature and
your own self when here… (Read the review of the Grand Oak Manor in Binsar)

Grand Oak Manor in Binsar

Sight-seeing in Binsar: You go to Binsar to trek around the Binsar Wildlife Santuary. The reserve is home to birds, bears, boars, jackals, leopards, foxes etc. During our treks, we did manage to spot a fox and a few boars, but deep inside the trees…

Although stationed at the Grand Oak Manor for 3 nights, we were sure we didn’t want to budge from the premises of the Dame, but Sindhu insisted we go see the cluster of Jageshwar temples some 60 kms downhill. Why Ms Bhuvan Kumari from the Jeolikote Cottage too had adviced us to go there! And so, we relented and reluctantly went to see the Jageshwar temples, the museum that houses the temple statues and figurines, the Jhula Devi temple with its hundreds of bells, cave paintings from the stone-age at Phulaseema. Honestly, not a bad day. But wouldn’t have minded staying put at the Manor too….

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The Cutchi Memon Table — Authentic Cutchi Memon Food in Mumbai

With more and more people travelling far and wide and opening up their palates, regional cuisines are the latest ‘hot cakes’! And nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in Mumbai, where people are lapping up regional meals, be it at plush hotels, restaurants, street joints or even people’s homes. Oh yes, people’s homes — for that exclusive food-cum-ambience experience. The newest entrant in this block of authentic food-exclusive ambience, is the Cutchi Memon Table.

The Cutchi Memon Table is Faiziya Soomar’s baby. Her third baby. An entrepreneurial one at that. The first two, biological ones, are grown-up birds now and on the verge of flying off the nest. Which is why Arshad Soomar, Faiziya’s husband, egged her to dream the entrepreneur’s dream, doing what she does best – cook! Faiziya, mind you, had already taken baby steps over the past couple of years, what with packing delectable spreads whenever her friends or neighbours requested. Confident of her success, Arshad convinced Faiziya to reach out to foodies outside her circle….And thus was born the Cutchi Memon Table. To bring to food-loving Mumbaikars the authentic taste, flavours, meals and mithai of the famed Cutchi Memon community in the Gulf of Cutch to which the Soomar trace their family tree…

Located in the upmarket Perry Cross Road in Bandra West, what strikes you foremost when you enter the Soomar living room is the Table — A round table, expensive china, stylishly tied napkins, fresh flowers in both corners and the menu. Instinctively you reach out to read it. And your lips give way to a broad smile. Our’s did. Worse. We grinned. Shamelessly. For, our menu read – Rooh Afza with soda and lime juice and mint garnish, Mutton Harissa served with a topping of lime, mint and birasta, Mutton Samosa served with spicy green chutney, Shami Kebabs, Whole Chicken served with Mutton Kheema and boiled eggs and served with Pav/Garlic Bread, Mutton Biryani with Dahi Kachumbar, Sheer Korma and Khubani Ka Meetha. Now tell us, why wouldn’t we grin?

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I, who hated Rooh Afza all her life, sipped through the one Faiziya got for us, all through the afternoon. Was it the ambience or was it the right garnishes? Perhaps both. Refreshing, it also helped kick up an appetite. And soon, we were all set to hit the Cutchi Memon Table. Remember I told you that the crockery looked expensive? Well, there was more to it. They were neatly place one on top of the other – first the soup bowl, next the snacks plate and next the main plate. Only now, while seated and waiting for the first course, did we realise that the crockery would follow the course of the meal. Faiziya brought in the Mutton Harissa, a soup made with daliya and mutton kheema, extremely tasty and what is supposed to be very filling during the Ramadan fasts. We could do with it any rainy day in Mumbai…

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And then Faiziya brought a plate full of what she shouldn’t have brought. Mutton Kheema Samosas. We lost our character to them, shamelessly piling our plates with 2-3 at a time. One of the juiciest samosas we have ever had, I am craving for them right now as I write about them. Next came the Shami Kebabs – juicy, filled with flavours and so perfect with the green chutney. So what if we were in love with the Samosas? We didn’t do the Shami Kebabs any injustice. We devoured 2-3 of them too, and then reached for that final Samosa! Tch tch…our shamelessness…

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By the time Faiziya brought in the next dish, the Whole Chicken, we were worried. For her. Just when did she wake up to make all these? She smiled, saying that preparations had started a day in advance. We had in front of us a full chicken that had been stuffed with Mutton Kheema and boiled eggs and served with Pav/Garlic Bread. Not grill or baked, mind you, but cooked in the gas stove. Smiling at our amused looks, Faiziya helped cut the chicken and serve the tender pieces, explaining all the while how she made it. We believed her. No way you couldn’t. This was a work of art. An art learned and perfected at her parental home in Bangalore. Tasty and very tasty, we reprimanded ourselves when we wanted another helping! For, Mutton Biryani was on its way and we need to save space for it. Faiziya explained that the Biryani, with succulent pieces of Mutton and flavor-filled potatoes, was the recipe handed down to her by her in-laws. We could only gape with wonder at the ‘foodie’ history of the family and be happy that this beautiful and talented woman has decided to allow outsiders to be a part of the journey…

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And now, time for the Sheer Korma and Khubani Ka Meetha. Symbolic of the continuing Eid celebrations, the Kheer Shorba was simply perfect to end the meal with. We scraped out the last bits from the little glass, and then, collectively fell for the Khubani Ka Meetha — so so exquisite and so so yumm, it was the best we ever had! We rounded up the extravaganza with Meetha Paan.  We left for home with happy stomachs, happy hearts and an exquisite  desserts jar that Faiziya made with her mom’s secret recipe…

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Not unnecessarily oily or spicy, the Cutchi Memon Table lived up to its name. It surely can’t get any more authentic and beautiful than this. Strongly recommend you to go for an elaborate meal here, get your family and friends along, and discover the beauty and taste of the Cutchi Memon food. No way you won’t fall for it and turn shameless like how we did!

Speak with Arshad or Faiziya at 9820398922 to fix a lunch date. Find the Cutchi Memon Table on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Spread the flavour.

Restaurant Review: China1 in BKC, Mumbai

Restaurants in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) are big by Mumbai standards, aren’t they? China1 in BKC is. That’s what strikes you as soon as you enter the restaurant. Located in the Capital building, the place was easy to find. And park too. For, they have valet parking, unlike a couple of restaurants in the vicinity.

Dim lights, plush décor, well spread tables give the place a classy look. We took a table almost at the far end corner. And were greeted by ‘shots’ of Cranberry Juice soon after. Extremely refreshing, this is the first time I saw any restaurant offer it complimentary.

We started off with Sweetcorn Crab Meat Soup – steaming and with a dash of pepper, it was perfect for our daughter who has been down with cough off late. And then we hopped on to dimsums – Chicken and Prawn Sui Mai, Black Bean Prawn roll and Chicken Pokchoy Dumpling – every one of them simply outdoing the other, we realized, we simply couldn’t point to the best one! Next, was turn of the Thai Chicken – juicy and spicy too, and with this lovely lemon grass flavor. Was perfect with the Litchi-Melon-Vodka cocktail and the Long Island that we had ordered. We, however, didn’t much like the Cambodian Basa in Pepper Garlic, probably because we aren’t Basa lovers at all. The fish has absolutely no taste and doesn’t lend to anything. Avoidable. Prawns instead, any day.

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After the gala Starters’ spread, we wanted to keep the Mains light. And so went for Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onion, Chicken Fried Rice and Veg Noodles. The lamb with ginger went just perfect with the noodles. The fried rice was spicy, cooked with burnt garlic and red chillies, giving it a very distinct flavor. I could probably eat it without any accompaniment. Really good.

For Desserts, it was Mango Pudding. Good enough, but not great. Beats me why Chinese restaurants don’t keep good traditional desserts? I hate to eat a cheesecake or ice cream after a good traditional Chinese meal…

So what if China1 is in the business district? Even on a Saturday, we found it filled to the brim with mixed croud – both corporate and non-corporate. There was this huge bunch of ladies, probably on a kitty party. The prices looked reasonable to me for the overall experience.

Go. Dine.

(We had been invited to China1 for a review of the restaurant)

Restaurant Review: Mirchi and Mime in Powai, Mumbai

It was a special occasion in the family, and we wanted to eat out. Only problem, it was a Monday evening. Going out to dine down to the city or even Bandra was out of question. Who’d want to be minced by the traffic in the streets after a hard day’s work at office? And so, unanimously, we chose Mirchi and Mime, the fusion Indian restaurant that had recently opened in Powai.

Remember, Powaikars, in recent times, have seen the burgeoning of the food space in their vicinity. Good food. What with some of the best restaurants setting up shop here and in its neighbourhood – R City Mall and Sakinaka. So another Indian restaurant, in the already cluttered space, made us wonder if it made sense. That doubt dispelled as we entered the restaurant full of diners that Monday evening. Big, well lit and cheerful, smiling staff, why did I get the feeling that the place looked more Italian/Mediterranean than Indian? That’s because, the décor at Mirchi and Mime doesn’t have the usual Indian colours and upholstery, yet is stylish and global in its look. What further differentiates it is that fact that the majority of its staff are specially abled – which is why the ‘Mime’ in their name. Starting from the greetings to reading the menu card to explaining to the guy waiting on us what we wanted, it was Mime all the way, and the team helped us learn the language so that we could communicate…

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We started off with Beer and Rocksalt Margarita with Mutton Dori Kebab and White Pepper Tikka – both absolutely juicy and cooked to perfection. For the mains, we went for Pork Belly Vindaloo and Chicken Biryani. The Biryani was a lot like Yakhni Pulao, rich in aroma and taste, with tender chicken pieces. The Vindaloo, though, lacked somewhat in taste – didn’t really touch the tongue, somewhat a bland tomato gravy. For desserts, it was Sitaphal Pannacotta and a big glass of Custard and Jelly. Both very good, although we struggled to finish the Custard and Jelly.  The meal cost us about Rs 3,600. Stylish, yes. And expensive too.

Overall, a lovely place with very good food and awesome service. The staff win you over with their smiles and bubbling energy. MUST GO!

 

Restaurant Review: Oh Calcutta in Andheri, Mumbai

We were looking for 2-3 pieces of furniture in the furniture market at Goregaon ( Read post on Where To Get Furniture At Best Prices in Mumbai) last Sunday, and never realized how 4 hours flew by in the exploration and negotiations. By the time we managed to wrap up at the shops, it was 2.30pm and we were famished! Headed to Oh Calcutta located almost around the corner.

Now, the last time we had been to Oh Calcutta in Andheri was about 8 years back, during our initial days in Mumbai. Greatly disappointed by their food, we never went back to the place, although the Oh Calcutta Tardeo branch went on to become one of our most favourite restaurants. Last Sunday though, we decided to give it a chance. Hoping that things would have changed in the last 8 years.

And change it did – for it was a bigger place compared to what we had seen in 2007. Dimly lit, Rabindra-sangeet playing in the background, posters of Bengali greats, a book shelf laden with Bengali books – the décor of Oh Calcutta is always so comforting, so homely. You hum along as you read the menu card, as you wait for your meal to arrive, as you eat and much after you have left the place. And the best part was, we saw a familiar face in the staff – one of the most senior staff members was now posted at the Andheri branch. That gave us hope…

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With that, we ordered our favourites – Smoked Hilsa, Kakra-Chingri Bhanpa, Bangali Pulao, Kosha Mangsho and Luchi. These have been our standard at Oh Calcutta for years, and it gave us great happiness to find their Andheri branch make all of the above exactly as per our expectation. Mouth-watering, tasty, awesome. We overate like nobody’s business. And then ordered Nolen Gurer Ice-cream. Ultimate Sunday afternoon meal.

Upon learning that we had returned after 8 years, the staff gifted us a Kheer-Kodombo each too. Pleasantly surprised, we devoured those too. And got back home for a late Sunday noon nap.

Oh yes, we skipped dinner that night! Happily….

Travel and food stories from around the world, through the eyes/lenses of a Mumbai-based husband-wife-daughter trio…

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