5 Minute Home-made Mango Salsa

image_20170705163203.jpg

Mumbai’s summers have been through the roof this year but the one thing that’s kept us our spirits up has been the delectable, juicy, Mango. Come summers, the fragrance of mangoes traverses through the home of all Mumbaikars. My dear friend, Chef Mrugank Desai and I decided to come up with supremely easy to make, seasonal recipes (at the fag end of the summer unfortunately) with ingredients you need not go scouting for. I’m not a fan of store bought salsa since it’s significantly high in preservatives, and since I’d been looking to perfect a recipe, we thought of making it with a little help of the mangoes lying around at home.

Ingredients:

Mango – 200 gms
Chopped onion – 50 gms
Chopped tomatoes – 50 gms
Chopped coriander – 10 gms
Green chilly – 1, chopped
Olive oil – 15 ml
The juice of 1 Lemon
Salt – to taste

Method – Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix carefully. Be sure not to squash the mango and tomatoes, else you’ll wind up with a rather mushy salsa! Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate before serving.

This can be enjoyed with chips, nachos, even quesadillas!

Advertisements

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.

lohri-at-taj-wellington-mews

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 🙂

Luncheon at The Taj Wellington Mews: Jevan Zaala Ka?

Swimming Pool at Taj Wellington Mews.jpg

My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up staying at fantastic Taj properties during so many of our travels within India. A gracious charm, over the top hospitality, fabulous service, exotic cuisines; staying at any Taj Hotel meant an ‘experience’ to be savoured.

Cut to a lesser known Taj property within Aamchi Mumbai. Tucked away in the by lanes of the old worldly charming Colaba lies the beautiful Taj Wellington Mews, Taj’s luxury serviced apartments, a home within a home for many (read mainly expats). Comprising of two sprawling penthouses with fabulous views of the Taj dome and the gentle Arabian Sea beyond on one side, and of the Cooperage greens and the Oval Maidan and the Rajabai Tower on the other, this property also has many two and three bedroom apartments, a perfect home if you need to stay in our city for a week or a year or many years!

Master Bedroom 1

Master Bedroom

Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

This pet friendly place boasts of a beautiful swimming pool, a state of the art gym, a lounge bar, the quaint Weli Deli complete with fresh groceries for sale, the signature Jiva Spa, a delightful children’s room, and to me the one most important thing, a security of its own which is second to none! No wonder it is home to many Consul Generals.

Taj Club and Jiva Spa.jpg

Taj Club and Jiva Spa

Cut to the new gastronomic delights being offered at the Weli Deli. Keeping in mind the festival season, Executive Chef Shrutika Koli, trained under the eagle eye of none other than the legendary Hemant Oberoi himself, offers a sumptuous Maharashtrian thali, a veritable feast for the eyes first, and then the stomach. We firmly believe that it is the eyes that taste the food first!

image_20160725124101.jpg

A beautifully laid out table complete with marigolds waited for our motely bunch of invitees. As conversation veered around the many aspects of what else, food, out came the bearers in their resplendent turbans, with stunning silver thaals filled to the brim with Chef Koli had crafted with love. The thalis brought back memories of the Tanjore of yore at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where we often used to dine as children on parents’ birthdays, enjoying the Indian classical dances.

image_20160725124206.jpg

We tucked into the hearty fare from different regions of Maharashtra, and marvelled at how the humble potato bhaaji had been turned into a haute cuisine dish. The stuffed vangi (brinjals) were saturated with local condiments, and the aamti (daal) was just right, sweet, sour, and tangy. The kothmir vadis from the Konkan region with its perfect texture needed a second helping, they were so delicious, but the accompanying tomato chutney needed probably four helpings by each one of us. The Kolhapuri thecha (a type of hari mirch chutney) came out later, much to our delight. The masala bhaat was so perfect in taste, it did not need any accompaniment of a daal or kadhi. We are vegetarians, but the non-vegetarians among us vouched as much for the Chicken Kolhapuri. However, all agreed that the piece de resistance was the combination of piping hot, fluffy puris, to be eaten dipped with the smooth as silk shrikhand, served beautifully in a piped swirl and garnished with strands of saffron. The humble Maharashtrian fare had been turned into nouvelle cuisine.

Maharashtrian Food Festival - 3

Since we Indians mostly eat our dessert with our meals (the shrikhand here), we were delighted to round off our hearty thaali with hot ginger tea, aka ‘cutting chaai’, served in the small lined glasses in the manner of our friendly neighbourhood ‘chaaiwala’.

image_20160725124212.jpg

Needless to say that while the residents of the apartments are tucking into this delicious local fare, Mumbaikars must reserve a table at the Weli Deli in the coming days to relish this local fare in the stylish way only the Taj can serve. The thaali is available throughout the month of August and is a steal at a price of Rs. 1480/- all inclusive.

Oh and did we mention that for the first time we felt as welcomed as do the foreigners in our country as we were greeted with a tikka and aarti as we entered? Or that we were greeted by the affable General Manager Mr. Anmol Ahluwalia himself? And that at every corner of the property, members of the staff smiled and greeted us warmly? And that the entire team at Taj Wellington Mews dined with us?

image_20160725124222.jpg

We finally have the perfect word for the Taj Experience, which we spoke about at the beginning. It is TAJNESS!

Do experience it, again and again.

Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Waffles

Hello All!

It’s been a while since I put up a recipe and this is one that’s extremely close to my heart.. and my tummy! My earliest memories of Sunday mornings as a child are those of either a hearty Gujarati breakfast, or waffles made by Mom. Nothing still manages to bring a big smile to my face and warmth in my heart like two of her best bakes – her apple pie and waffles. Now she’s incorporated apples and cinnamon into her waffles making this the greatest breakfast dish EVER!

Recipe:

150 gms maida
1/4 tsp baking powder
50 gms butter
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 tin condensed milk
200 ml milk
4 drops vanilla essence
1 tbsp apple juice*
1 cup grated apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Method:

  1. Sieve maida, baking powder and cinnamon powder together.
  2. Knead butter and sugar together.
  3. Add the condensed milk to the butter sugar mix.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the above mix.
  5. Add the grated apple, juice and essence. Let this lie at room temperature for a good 30 mins.
  6. Pour a cup of the mix into the waffle maker and allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes. Alternatively take a look at the instructions on your waffle maker since no two makers are the same. However this should be your call eventually so don’t forget to pay attention!

Quick Tip: *Grate the apples and let it lie aside for a while. They will begin to get runny in a while. Use the same fresh juice and nothing else, especially store bought.

Dining Maharaja Style

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  – Luciano Pavarotti

DSC_0567.JPG

Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you could be King for the day?  Masala Bay at The Taj Lands End Hotel decided to turn back time and curated a special culinary tour taking us from Kabul to Kolkata on a true gourmet adventure. Just look at that set up! We knew we were in for a special evening, about to dine like nothing less than royalty.

“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”  – Elsa Schiaparelli

Master Chef Amninder Sandhu and Executive Chef Anirudhya Roy have curated a stunning menu with (thankfully) a large number of vegetarian options sure to tickle your tastebuds. This journey is on till the 20th of June.

Dinner began with an invigorating bowl of Subz Badami Shorba – Handpicked summer vegetables with infused coriander, tempered with cumin and garnished with almond flakes.
One would expect an almond soup to be extremely heavy and rich, but this one was far from it. If anything, it was light, full of flavour and a very interesting start to the evening.

DSC_0594.JPG

Subz Badami Shorba

Appetisers comprised of this sinful platter:

Silbatta Ki Arvi Shammi
Cooked colocasia gently grounded to paste with hints of almond

Achari Laal Mirch Ka Paneer Tikka
Cottage cheese in whole red chili pickle marinade cooked in the clay oven

Kishtwad Ki Rajma Tikki
A perfect and nutritious snack of red kidney bean patty seasoned with aromatic spices shallow fried

Challi Aur Methi Ki Seekh
Corn kernel is given a royal treatment with chopped fenugreek leaves

Sure to teleport you to the villages of beautiful North India, these tikkis each had a distinct flavour and spices. Not one to survive a platter of spicy food, I did manage to wipe off every tikki simply because it was too difficult to resist no matter the consequences! By the end of it I was battling tears but they were so worth it. Not to forget I had a lip smacking ‘Paan Mojito’ accompanying my food. I have never had a Paan (betel nut) flavoured anything, this delicious. It’s not too sweet and the flavour of the paan hits you only at the end of each sip. I convinced the others on the table too that this NEEDED to be their drink for the evening.

Mains included:

Pista khubani kofta
Apricot stuffed koftas, in a luxurious pistachio gravy from the kitchens of Maharaja of Patiala

Dum Aloo Banarasi
Baby potatoes in a robust fennel and dry ginger gravy

Rawalpindi Channa
Chickpeas cooked over charcoal fire

Lasooni Palak
Creamy spinach flavoured with garlic

Dal Makhani
Black lentils simmered overnight and finished with homemade churned butter and cream

Afghani Kabuli Pulao

Assorted Indian Breads

DSC_0615.JPG

By the time the mains arrived I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to eat anymore(!) but I had to try everything that Chef had prepared for us with such love. For someone who is terrified of spinach to say the least, especially cooked spinach ( I could eat baby spinach in a salad), the lasooni palak is one of the best Indian foods I’ve ever eaten. The spinach is so tender and the garlic just makes it so so much better. I had to serve myself another spoon. The chole and kofta reminded me of why I want to do purely a food trail in North India and experience how much that region has to offer. If only I could spend a month with Chef in the kitchen and inherit even a tad bit of her talent!

Dessert:

Tille Wali Kulfi

Sandesh Platter

GT _Masala Bay_03.JPG

By this point I was sure my body would reject any morsel of food, but I simply could not have said no to the kulfi and sandesh platter. The kulfi served with sweet rose flavoured vermicelli was helpful in cooling down my systems. I’ve also never enjoyed sandesh (pronounced Sondesh) quite as much. My favourite was the nolen gur sandesh which I learnt is made from date palm jaggery. It tastes every bit as interesting as it sounds. Bite into a gooey, caramel like centre to guide you to the stairways of heaven.

The Taj Group has always been known for its hospitality and there is no shred of doubt that I have enjoyed every moment of being associated with this brand. The PR team from Edelman and the Taj as well as all the servers at Masala Bay ensured that we were taken care of from the very minute we stepped into the restaurant. What a wonderful evening this was with brilliant food, wonderful company and some unheard of great folk music!

This menu is available until the 20th of June so I sincerely recommend you to book your table to enjoy a meal you’ll be talking about for a long long time to come.

Address: Masala Bay, Taj Lands End, Band stand Mumbai
Telephone: 022 6668 1234