Lohri Food Festival at the Taj Wellington Mews

Venue: Weli Deli, Taj Wellington Mews, 33, Nathalal Parikh Marg, Cusrow Baug Colony, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai
Dates: 10th January onwards
Price: INR 1200 plus taxes

Authentic Punjabi flavours have found their way to Weli Deli at the Taj Wellington Mews, as Executive Chef Shrutika Kohli conjures a decadent menu to celebrate the festival of LohriChef Kohli allows you to traverse through the festive lanes of Punjab with scintillating flavours of dishes such as Paneer Butter Masala, her signature Dal Makhini, Punjabi Samosas, and the quintessential Sarson Ka Saag with Makke Di Roti. 

The festival of Lohri which falls on the 13th of January every year is celebrated popularly to mark the end of winter. However traditionally, it is associated with the harvesting of rabi (grain) crop, therefore making it a harvest festival. Punjabi farmers are known to view the day after Lohri as the beginning of a new financial year. The festival is celebrated in full fervour with a bonfire and traditional food items such as Makke Di Roti and Sarson Ka Saag along with sweets like Gajak.

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The Taj Wellington Mews brings to Mumbai the Lohri Food Festival for the entire month of January. We were invited to a lip-smacking preview a couple of days ago. Since we eat Indian food almost everyday at home, we don’t usually opt to go out for the same. Chances of eating authentic Punjabi food are even lesser, therefore we weren’t going to miss out on this dinner!

We were as always, greeted with warm Taj hospitality by Mr. Shibu Nair (Director of Sales & Marketing) and the lovely Ms. Kaizeen Davierwalla (Asst. Sales Manager). The weather Gods were favouring us that evening with a cool, crisp air, allowing us to sit out on the deck which undeniably added to the charm of the evening.

Conversations revolving around food started flowing and I forgot how famished I was. I remembered only when the gorgeous thali came out filled with several traditional dishes. The thali comprised of Punjabi samosa, paneer butter masala, sarson ka saag, makke di roti, paratha, jeera rice, dal makhini, gajar ka halwa and raita along with sweet lassi.

My favourite dish was undoubtedly the saag with the makki roti. This was only the second time that I’d ate traditional saag and it just seemed to warm my soul. The fact that it was so beautifully cooked with all the right flavours, allowed to it melt in my mouth. The roti too was perfectly crispy. I am not a fan of paneer butter masala either because most restaurants get this wrong by either serving rubbery paneer or with a mix of too many spices making it pungent, or both. This dish had just the right amount of butter, not too rich, blended with just enough masala. The paneer however was a tad rubbery but considering the masala was so delicious, it could be ignored. The dal makhani was as always decadent and coated the jeera rice perfectly. Radish had been added to the paratha to give it an unusual texture and mava to the gajar ka halwa. I find that most places tend to over sweeten the halwa, which is not how it should be enjoyed. Chef Kohli got it just right, making me a very happy taster! 😀 Oh and of course, the sweet raita, to cool down the stomach after such a heavy meal!

I recommend you, fellow Mumbaikars, to have this experience especially since we are having a somewhat blessed ‘winter’ with cool evening almost every night. Chef Kohli’s thali will certainly warm your soul and leave you wanting more!

Book your table today at 022 66 574 331. You will thank me 🙂

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Celebrate this Diwali with The Bombay Canteen

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The evenings are luminous with lights everywhere … on the streets, at homes and in everyone’s hearts! Celebrate the Festival of Lights and the joy of sharing with The Bombay Canteen’s “Dhamakedar Hampers”. It’s just not any hamper, this one is filled with delicious traditional Indian snacks wrapped in nostalgia with a specially designed packaging reminiscent of Diwali patakaas. These limited edition, specially crafted patakaa boxes are bursting with your favourite namkeen and delicious mithai, including Sweet Potato Chips, Chaklis , Navratan Mix and Peanut Chikki and Kaju Puri with a set of beautiful hand-painted diyas.

Come, make this Diwali memorable with the perfect gift for your loved ones 🙂

Call 7738044495 to order your Dhamakedar Hamper
Price: Rs. 750 All Inclusive
Address: The Bombay Canteen
Unit 1, Process House Opp Power House,
Kamala Mills, S.B Road Lower Parel Mumbai 400013

Memories Are Made Of These

We’ve fought and made up
We’ve agreed and so often disagreed
But no matter what,
We love and we share
We respect and we care
Our bond dearest brother is so beautiful and deep
Even though you’ve so often made me weep!

Your brother will always be your very own superhero, and your sister your biggest confidant. Celebrate this beautiful bond with Team Parcelled.in this Raksha Bandhan. Take a look at their very special video dedicated to this beautiful relation.

 
Embrace the spirit of Raksha Bandhan and surprise your sibling with their favourite something because for Parcelled.in, distance means nothing, when someone means everything 🙂

The sweet flavours of Holi

Hello Readers!

With the Indian festival of colours Holi a day away, I thought it was only essential to share recipes of typical Indian sweets that one simply cannot go without on this day – malpua, gujiya and of course, thandai. Before I share these recipes though, since a lot of my lovely readers are situated outside India, let me give you a little background on the bright day that is Holi.

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This is one of my favourite photographs of the festival courtesy of National Geographic.
Source: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/holi-celebrants-india/

Come Phagun Poornima (full moon night) and the streets of India reverberate with the chants of “Holi hai” (it’s Holi today!) clouds of abeer and gulal (dry, coloured powder) float through the sky, and the day turns into a riot of colors among great bonhomie and camaraderie, and of course flirting! The colors of this festival are entrenched in the very soul of every Indian.

This ancient festival, originally called Holika, is believed to have existed several centuries before Christ. And while all of us know the story of the evil Holika and the Shivbhakt Prahlad (http://www.holifestival.org/legend-holika-prahlad.html), Holi also heralds the commencement of spring, and so is also called Vasant mahotsav.

In some parts of India, specially in Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is also celebrated as the birthday of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Hindu monk from the 16th century). And in South India Kaamdev (Hindu God of Love) is worshipped on this day. The Sikks call it holla mohalla and show their might on this day. However, the literal meaning of the word ‘Holi’ is ‘burning’. There is also a scientific reason for celebrating Holi. The mutation period of winter and spring, induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere as well as in the body. When Holika is burnt, temperature rises to about 145 degrees Fahrenhiet. Following the tradition when people perform Parikrima (circumambulation) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.

However, nowhere it is celebrated with so much charm and enthusiasm as in Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon – the places associated with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. The people of Mathura and Vrindavan celebrate Holi for over a week. Legend says that the young Krishna was extremely jealous of the fair Radha. On complaining Radha kyon gori, main kyun kala (why is Radha so fair whilst I am so dark?), Maiya Yashoda (His mother) asked him to go and color Radhas face, and since then, this loveable prank of Krishna has been immortalised in the celebrations of holi. In fact, the entire country gets drenched in the coloured waters of pichkaris (small water pipes) when it is time for Holi and celebrate the immortal love of Krishna and Radha. At Barsana, the birth place of Radha, Holi assumes the name of Lathmaar Holi. Here, women of Barsana give a tough time to men of Nandgaon as they come to play Holi with them. Women drag the unlucky captives, beat them, dress them in a female attire – yet all is in the spirit of Holi. These celebrations draw tourists from around the world, and in the interest of tourism and safety, the state tourist board has set up excellent vantage points for the public. A large open ground, on the outskirts of the town is specially set aside for the most magnificent display of the festivities.

Holi is celebrated all over the country under different names like sigmo, dol jatra, khadi holi, dhuleti, ukkuli and kumaoni holi. The one common ritual being the colors, dancing and the revelry, and mouth watering gujiya, mathri, malpua and thandai associated with holi.

Here are a few good recipes that I found online:

Gujiya: http://food.ndtv.com/recipe-gujiya-218891

Thandai: http://food.ndtv.com/recipe-thandai-218155

Malpua: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/recipe/Malpua.html

This Holi, do not forget to be safe, protect your skin and hair, and have a whole lot fun!

 

Mithais (sweets) this Ganesh Chaturthi

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My favourite time of the year is finally here! Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi, is celebrated by Hindus as the birthday of their beloved Lord Ganesh or The Elephant God. It falls in the Hindu month of Bhadra and lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of Anant Chaturdashi.

This year it will be celebrated on the 29th of August with much joy and grandeur in my beautiful city of Mumbai. I plan on making Besan laddoos as an offering (or Prasad) to my Lord.

This article was originally supposed to be titled Laddo made laddoos (super cheesy right? But hey, that’s me !) since some of my closest friends know me by that name (you know who you are!); but since this is my very first post and I am launching my blog on this auspicious day, I decided to dedicate it solely to my Lord.

For years my mum has depended on HER Mom’s hand written recipe book for fresh, home cooked Indian food, and on the late Mrs. Tarla Dala’s cookbooks for more esoteric vegetarian fare; so when I decided to teach myself how to prepare laddoos for this festival, I figured I didn’t need to look anywhere else. I’ve grown up staring and simultaneously salivating at the photographs in her cookbooks so I reached out for one of mum’s many books and used the following recipe:

BESAN LADOOS (makes 12 SMALL LADOOS)

 Ingredients:

1/3 cup ghee (at room temperature)

1 cup besan (Bengal gram flour)

½ cup powdered sugar*

½ tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder**

a pinch nutmeg powder

almond slivers and kesar (saffron) strands for decoration

*I suggest using ¾ cup powdered sugar, since I felt the laddoos could be a little sweeter

** I used ¼ tsp elaichi powder simply because I’m not its biggest fan

Method:

1. Head the ghee in a kadai, add the besan (once it starts to simmer and your kitchen is filled with that nasty smell)

2. Sauté on a (very) slow flame till the besan turns golden brown*

3. Once it’s done, take it off the heat and set aside to cool

4. Add the sugar, elaichi powder, and nutmeg powder to the (cooled down) mixture. Mix well

5. Divide it into equal portions (I was able to make 12 with this recipe although the original mentions 10) and shape them into round balls

6. Pretty up your laddoos with the almond slivers and kesar strands **

*Keep an eye on that besan because it’s extremely tricky, especially if you are a novice. When it comes to besan I have found that there is a very fine line between golden brown and brown, so do be careful.

** To me, presentation is as important as taste, so I took the time to carefully place every almond sliver and saffron strand on each laddoo.

Serve immediately or keep aside in an air tight box. Do not refrigerate. They will remain fresh up to 3 days.

Quick tip: Mrs Dalal’s recipe mentions that the powdered sugar must be sieved to ensure that there are no lumps in your laddoo mixture. I say, follow this BLINDLY.

I do have one request to everyone celebrating this festival – Please bring home an eco – friendly idol, one that is made from bio-degradable clay. Perform the visarjan (immersing the idol in water) in one of the many artificially created ponds in your city. The Lord takes no joy in being immersed in a sea causing harm to sea life.

I pray that all your wishes get fulfilled and He blesses you with much health and prosperity!

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

Meal fit for a King