Saturday, January 20, 2018

Just Walking Around

Kulfio…. Kulfiwala

Since the children’s  Diwali vacation were still on, on a whim we decided to head to the beach or Chowpatty as called in Mumbai. We thought instead of heading north and through the messy traffic of Mumbai Suburbs towards Juhu we shuld try going to SoBo and enjoy an evening at the original Chowpatty , the Girgaum Chowpatty. So armed with some old newspapers to sit on a , Bhakti’s sand castle making equipments, Netra’s Frisbee and a small beach ball we took a cab and set out on our little outing. On hindsight the decision was perfect ,we reached in about 40 minutes and landed at the entrance of Girgaum Chowpatty . As we entered the beach ,the Sun was still up but slowly making its journey across the horizon making the skyline a crimson red. We were awestruck with the clean golden sands and thought this is great but our enthusiasm was short lived as we got closer to the water we could see all the garbage strewn . The mess even more highlighted as it was a low tide evening. We put it behind us and picked up a good brightly lit spot and quickly sat in a huddle . Bhakti and Netra poured out the small shovels , bucked and the various moulds on the sand and we started building what else but a sand castle with a moat and a drawbridge et all. It was fun a little family time.

Just then I heard a familiar and loud cry from one of the sellers of most unique ice creams ---Kulfio Kulfi….. In the distant I could see a white dhoti kurta clad man carrying a wicker basket atop his head walking around the length of the beach calling out in between trying to entice the people sitting to try his cool cool kulfi’s.

A family near by asked him to stop so they could choose from his kulfi’s . He set down the basket .Uncovered the red cloth hiding a matka within . When asked fro type of flavours he said he had malai and kesar – badam and chikoo. The family decided to go for the malai. Then with deft hand the Kulfiwala pulled out a couple of conical moulds opened their caps and stuck a stick , pulling out what looked like the yummiest and cool kulfi. After selling them , the kulfiwala was on his way ,walking in short but confident strides and giving out the familiar cry of Kulfio Kulfiiii

Did you know these kulfi wallahs come from a small village of Wadhane 45 km from Pune. During the lean season when the farming activity is low the men from Wadhane head to Mumbai with their ancestral kulfi making skills and roam the streets of Mumbai for making some additional buck to substantiate their farm based income.These men from Wadhane come to Mumbai in groups and stay together .Its difficult to  live together in a small space, take turns to cook food. Then there is the kulfi-making itself. Traditionally sold by vendors or kulfi wallahs who keep the kulfi frozen by placing the moulds inside a large earthen pot or a matka. They make kulfi by evaporating around 10 litres of sweetened and flavoured buffalo milk by slow cooking it in large containers on coal-run stoves. They have to stir it continuously, to keep the milk from sticking to the bottom of the vessel. They have to keep boiling it till its volume is reduced by a half, increasing its fat, protein and lactose density. The semi-condensed mix is then frozen in tight sealed molds or kulhars that are then submerged in ice mixed with salt to speed up the freezing process. The ice/salt mix, along with its submerged kulfi molds, is placed in a matka or an earthen pot that provides insulation from external heat. The kulfi is also sometimes garnished with pistachios, cardamom and sweetened cream. Earlier the standard flavors were pista, cardamom, mango and rose. But now people want kulfis in strawberry, chiku, sitaphal and even chocolate flavour and these kulfiwallas cater to their demands. Every villager has a designated area where he carries the matka covered with the trademark red cloth. The older, more experienced kulfi-makers get to go to posh areas such as Chowpatty, the others raom the streets near gykhana’s like Bombay Gymkhana , The Oval or on the Marine Drive and Worli Seaface. You can even catch them at Shivaji Park selling their cold and milky kulfi’s.

But if you are the those worried sick about hygiene , but still want to eat this yummy cold concoction there are various spots across the length and breadth of Mumbai where you can indulge your sweet tooth. Just across the Girgaum Chowpatty there’s the New Kulfi Centre  famous for thier lip smacking kulfi’s in 25 flavors to boast. From the fresh fruity flavors of Strawberry , Chickoo , Anjir , Mango and even a tangy variety of Orange. What you will be surprised is the hot favourite of the loyal clients is their chocolate chip and orange combination. Little sweet little oragngy and loaded with choco chips . Chip away at the small square pieces fine cut by the counter staff and handed over to you on a plate.

Another place where you get the yummiest kulfi is at the Parsi Dairy Farm  Parsi Dairy Farm has been packing flavours and memories in their food for over a century in Mumbai, and their kulfis are no exception. 

They offer a variety of flavours including kesar, kesar pista, chocolate, strawberry, sitaphal, and more. They add absolutely no preservatives or emulsifiers and so, have some of the creamiest and freshest kulfi out there. A real melt in the mouth treat.

And closer home near King Circle just a few yard away from the famous Shanmukanand Hall is a small place going by the name of Himalaya . They offer the best ever malai kulfi rabdi falooda an almost a tongue-twister, a kulfi topped with generous portions of falooda and rabdi,  Want more? Ask for a malai medium or even a kulfi in badam pista or kesar pista right away.In case rabdi is your poison of choice, you can add it as an extra to the dish, or pack it for later.

Another simple and small but yummy kulfiwala is Gupta Kulfi at Byculla. Come here for roasted almond kulfi . It’s really delicious and a great value for money. The malai chikki kulfi also seems an interesting option for a day if you like to experiment a little, eat it on a plate or with a kulfi stick.

So next time after a hearty dinner you are craving a good dessert. Instead of the usual ice cream go for the traditional kulfi. And I can proudly say, nothing beats the Indian popsicle – a cold creamy kulfi 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Just Walking Around

New Age Watering Holes for the nocturnal wild thing…

Staying and working in Mumbai can be stressful especially for the non-Mumbaikar’s . It the only city that measures distance in time. Ask any one on the road for an address and the first thing that comes out from his mouth if he is a puccka Mumbaikar is …Madam / Sir the place you are asking is at a distance of 20 minutes from here , you can take the Auto if you are lucky to get one , it will reach you in 40 minutes due the traffic else just take the good old BEST , aaram se baitho you will reach in same time but it will cost you just a Tenner. The might Time “Samay” as in the intro of the DD Epic Serial Mahabharat is entwined to the destiny of each Mumbaikar. You just can not escape it be catching the 7:04 am local to Churchgate from Borivili or the 6:53 pm local back home. If you are taking your car to office be sure to  hit the raod by 7-7:30 am to miss the South bound rush hour traffic and commence the reverse journey either at 5pm or if you miss this not before 9 pm . Else be prepared to get stuck in Bumper-to-Bumper traffic moving at snails pace on the Western Express Highway during peak hours both in the morning and evening. I have had colleagues owning the best of wheels dumping them at home and taking an UBER / OLA or even the AC Bus , only taking out their polished cars during weekends to take out the family or go shopping with Wife.

To beat this stress some of the young and young at heart have found ways to let their heads down at least during weekends. To cater to the varying tastes of these patron Mumbai has become the Capital of new age Lounge Bars. Everyone has their own tastes and choices. And so I'm going to qualify this list by saying that these are the 3 best places that most of whom I know keep returning to, each one for different reasons -- the consistently-good grub, the engaging decor, a likeable music track, an exciting (or inexpensive) drinks list, or even just good old nostalgia

Though myself a teetotaler have friends and family acquaintances who enjoy the high spirits. So here goes a review of the 3 best watering holes in Mumbai 2 on experiences of others and 1 on personal experience.

The Bar Stock Exchange is among the city’s most unique theme bars where, as you probably know, the prices of the alcohol vary according to supply and demand. Unlike the real share market however, the rates are always kept within an affordable range. While you don’t need to break the bank to visit, a head for numbers does come in handy .

It’s easy to understand why The Bar Stock Exchange is such a big hit with its patron This really is one of the most pocket-friendly pubs in town. When it opens, prices range from as low as Rs19 for a peg of Old Monk and go up to a high of Rs792 for a pour of 18-year-old Glenfiddich whisky. Even when the spot is packed to capacity at 10pm, the rum can be a thrifty Rs90, cheaper than what it’s tagged at in similar establishments. Regular patrons would be  very pleasantly surprised to find Gateway Brewing Co.’s White Zen beer available on tap for as low as Rs125 at the start of business. And though you don’t really come to a joint like this for the cocktails you will be happy to note that they do a slightly spicy Bloody Mary, for which you shell out a mere Rs251. Perhaps the prospect of such sweet deals makes both patrons and waiters a little more patient. Alos they have introduced their own App which they insist you download using their free WiFi and order your drinks directly from the App. The most tech savy lounge bar in todays times I guess. You can spend your evening by the bar in the al fresco section , while orders come thick and fast, neither customer or bartender lose their cool even when a few folks take their time to make some mental calculations. The chain hired chef Kshama Prabhu, who has done stints at The Tasting Room cafe and The White Owl microbrewery, to oversee their menu. Her additions include the 2am Cheese Pav , a poshed-up version on the streetside masala pav, which achieved a good balance between the cheese and spice. You can also try the poutine mushroom melt, a well-portioned and flavoured baking tray full of French fries, cheese and brown mushroom sauce.

Like the food and the simply but tastefully decorated black and glass decor, the music is agreeable if not particularly unique. They play mostly remixes just to be sure, but both the tempo and the volume of the nineties alternative rock and current pop hits playlist is at a level that enable conversation. But then who goes there for serious talk . Enjoy the night while it lasts.

Next on the list any true party animal will be the Glocal Junction .It is a new-age all day dining and bar concept hangout that unifies the global and local elements together. It caters to the needs of today's global local, those who are global in their appearances but local at heart. Glocal Junction is the unification of global experiences with surprise elements of local cultures, a twisted new whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.

To enhance its offerings, the restaurant starts as a soothing space as the day begins and converts into a high-energy casual night spot by sundown that potentially binds together the concepts of an all-day dining and a casual lounge seamlessly.

The food menu at Glocal Junction is an amalgamation of global cuisines with a twist of regional flavors.They have combined various ingredients and techniques to evolve different cuisines, thereby offering some of the iconic dishes in a renewed avatar - the Glocal avatar! Don't mistake it for fusion, because it is not!

The bar at Glocal Junction has a well nurtured menu keeping in mind the fact that people in today's time are well travelled, have good product knowledge, great sense of taste. But they are still local by heart and enjoy the desi/local fun elements, even when it comes to drinking.

The layout of Glocal Junction is planned into a massive 5,000sq feet space on the ground and the first floor. The interiors have been designed with global techniques, local materials, and humble ones that too, but now distilled to a point where their inherent beauty is undeniable.

Glocal Junction, with its unimpeachable cuisine, elaborate bar menu, well-manicured interiors and exquisite ambiance is set to provide this city with a captivating drinking and dining space that allows its guests to enjoy the virtue of being local at heart.

And last but not the least is the new kid on the block “ Kaama” in most happening of places at Kamala Mills compound . The owner Swapneel Redkar an old schoolmate and friend. Just 8 months old and taking its baby steps in the night life scene. Its huge with its 2500 sq ft..The Ambience is real cozy , with comfortable seating area and well lit not unlike some of the dimly lit places which seem more dingy than approachable. The space is clearly demarcated into 3 section separated by the prominent bar with trained bar tenders churning out drinks and cocktails with aplomb. 

Our group of 12-16 consisting of my Wifey’s cousins and other close famiy friends decided to bring in the New Year on Dec 31st here this year. We were very well taken care off by the Manager Ajay Gupat and his team of well mannered servers. Dishing our succulent and mouth watering starters like spiced potatoes (crispy potatoes marinated in India spices, Harissa and Garlic Aioli ) , Char grilled Portebello Mushroom (flavoured with saffron & balck pepper served on scented Truffle Mushroom Kulcha) , Zesty Cottage Cheese ( soft Paneer made into Angari Tikka and served on Mozerella Cheese Kulcha with pickled shallots) both mouth watering and with a taste that lingered on through the night. On the non veg side the Chicken Poutine with its Makhni gravy added Indian punch to the evening. Even the Chcen Seekh were well marinated with right amount of spices and done well so to melt in your mouth when bit. The other notables were crisply done Fish fingers and Tandori marinated spicy Green chutney based grilled Chicken giving it a smoky flavour.

The bar menu is well stocked with the usual brand that all drinkers would love Black Label , Chivas Ciroc and others like Absolut Jose Cuervo and Ballentine’s. A special suggestion would be to try out their cocktails for their selection of cocktails, especially the ones that are tea-infused. These cocktails are made from freshly brewed tea like cardamom, basil leaves, Assam leaves and there’s even an orange tea infused with hints of cinnamon.  Tea lover? Mix it up with booze and enjoy. As their menu highlights the fact “ Just like a secret fantasy that finds its way to the door of the shy. Kaama Tea Infusions marry desires with potency and taste with nostalgia. A serving for your every day royalty”. A concoction which transports you into a different world all together and pumps up your mood and gives you a kick to beat the blues. Keeping in tune with the name of the establishment “ Kaama” they have exotic drinks which go by the name of Deep Desire , Midnight Fantasies , Mysterious Muse and Lustrous Cascade.

The NYE 2018 event for which we had gone was kept rocking by DJ MADOC spinning musical hits and  remixes both Bollywood and Classic Pop . A night to remember and a great way to bring in the New Year.

To sum it up Kaama leaves us asking for more. Food and desire go hand in hand when the flavours, fragrance and aura blend in well. Spacious, elegant and beautiful spread makes up for the ambience. Add music/dj and the dance floor with gigs and you lit up the vibe of the place.

A great place to spend an evening with family and friend and the best way to let your hair down after and tiring and stressful week and just before the start of another grueling week ahead. Head to this place for food , drinks , music and little loose the wild animal in you.

Its Saturday Night again today ,so put on you dancing shoes and head to any of your favourite watering holes with friends and have the time of your life ….Kyun Ki .....Abhi to Party Shuru Hu Hai..

Darwaje Ko Kundi Maaro
Koyi Na Bach Jaane Paaye
Dj Ko Samjha Do Music
Galti Se Bhi Ruk Na Jaaye

Daga Daga Sa Jo Feel Kare
Wo Jaake Do Red Bull Gatak Le
Aur Jisko Dance Nahi Karna
Wo Jaake Apni Bhains Charaaye

Bas Aaj Ko Raat Hai
Kal Se Wahi Siyape Hain
Jee Bhar Ke Naach Lo
Na Ghar Wale Na Maa Pe Hain
Sab Pe Apna Raaz Hai

Darne Ki Kya Baat Hai
Yeh Toh Bas Suruaat Hai
Yeh Toh Bas Suruaat Hai
Are Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai..
Are Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai…
Yeh Toh Bas Suruaat Hai