Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lost My Heart To The Stolen Coffee Room

As we stepped out of Bangali Mashi's Kitchen after the bloggers lunch meet on that Saturday afternoon in April, none of us wanted to part immediately. We had broken into fits of laughter and had gone gaga over a picket fence that was in front of a closed shop. When suddenly we spotted this blue facade and went Wow! in unison. We did not know what to expect, curiously we read out the signage, The Stolen Coffee Room and yet again we went on in a muffled chorus, hmmm interesting!

All of us Saee, P and Harini were drawn to it like a magnet and did it amaze us, to find such a charming coffee place in the most unexpected of locations. Ever since I have been wanting to take my friend Kiran there. She loves bazaars, Indian Bazaars and you must check out these interviews she has done in Mumbai's Chor Bazaar and the Bollywood posters that are now considered valued art.

Well I haven't digressed, guess what's the connection? Go over to Kiran's to read about an architect's view on this coffee shop that stole my heart.

I will move on to tell you about their menu instead. The coffee menu is elaborate but the accompaniments are few. Anyways it did not bother us, we  had gone there filled to the brim post lunch at BMK both the times, with the blogger buddies and on this day again. Frankly that makes it a perfect location, eat a Indian meal at BMK and enjoy a relaxed coffee after it at a very Amsterdamish cafe, all in a day. Ain't that reflective of how the Indians in Metros live? Traveling around the world and coming back to India and home and then wanting the world on their platter.

What did we order? It is still hot in Mumbai so an Iced Hazelnut mocha latte for me and Kiran wanted the same thing hot so she went for the Hazelnut latte. I liked hers more, it was indeed refreshing and the temperature right. Through layers of creamy froth the coffee smoothens your nerves as it surprises your palate.

The last time I was there with the blogger buddies I had a Lite Cafe Latte which was quite good, but not really light, it was quite creamy. Harini had a shot of Espresso, and she was kicked about it, while P and Saee had Cappuccino one lite and the other full cream. Saee did mention the full cream made the coffee to cool over time. So when my friend had left her cup half drunk while she busily clicked pictures of the decor, you see she was as smitten as the 4 pioneers, by this coffee shop; we requested for a reheat in the microwave and the staff obliged.

As we not so greedily but out of curiosity checked out the eats and treats we saw, apple pie, blueberry cheesecake in a cup, and some other pastries. I am yet to try any. I asked the staff if they were made inhouse and the answer from accross the counter came "sourced from vendor".

Well this place is about ambiance really, old antique furniture an eclectic collection at that. Old advertisement adorned the wall. The center of attraction is this garage like lighting that highlights the coffee maker at work.

Those bottles of Monin syrup next to a Ganapati idol makes everyone smile.


For the book lovers there is a bookshelf.
Would you find your favorite book there every time you visit?
Would you visit everyday to read the book as you sip your favorite cuppa?

The old world charm in the cafe and a relaxed unhurried pace that Seawoods, Nerul allows you is priceless.

Picture credits(all the inside views): Indian Bazaars

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friendly Neighborhood Bangali Mashi's Kitchen


Is it a rule to do a review of a restaurant on your first visit? If no then you will forgive me for not doing it the first time round as promised. You will agree that a review has more value when you go back again and find consistency in the food, service and a relationship is built with the people at these places.

Since my first visit I had decided that these two places in my neighborhood will be often visited for I simply love both. I need to thank Saee for introducing Bangali Mashi’s Kitchen to us blogger friends when we met in April.  The Stolen Coffee Room is bang opposite and attracted us like a magnet. This means there will be back to back review posts.

Kiran is someone I love to chill out with, we used to spend time together when I was in Blr. So when she said she is visiting Mumbai, I was thrilled. She is an architect with interests in Indian Bazaars and Urban development, she had to see Nerul and its happening places. I promised her that Nerul’s "Lukha raj" is over and finally we have lots for entertainment.  Lukha means pauper in Punjabi-Hindi. Well in the 7years I was away from Mumbai many things have changed in Nerul. I love my neighborhood now for its green cover, population of chirpy birds and consumerist entertainment as Kiran calls it. She loves to hear stories of the changing faces of urban development. I could sense her excitement matching mine when we discussed the plan.

So off we went to Bangali Mashi’s Kitchen, located off Palm beach road, on the street that separates Sector 44A and Sector 46A, in Shreejit Heights Complex, Seawoods, just after the circle. You can also reach there from Nerul East by taking the Seawoods Flyover. A red sign board welcomes you, the mascot on it a happy well rounded old Bengali Mashi draped in red and white saree promises you to be fed well.

As we enter, I wish Sushmita, the owner, a very warm lady and that warmth reflects in her restaurant as well. It is a small place with exactly 6 tables with 4 chairs each. So make sure to book ahead of time when you visit on weekends. The walls lined with bamboo mats and pictures of Belur Math, Dakhineshwar etc. transporting you to Bangal. Though the restaurant is small you observe, it is clean and bright. The high ceiling and full glass front door lets in flooding sunlight in the dining area.

As She looks around to appreciate the little place, she declares she has never tasted Bengali food, this for someone who has spent most of her childhood vacations in Kolkata. Since this was my second visit, I recommended the Vegetarian Thali, Kiran agreed and my Dad loves thalis anyways.

The meal began with a small shot of bhaja masala spiced butter milk and fried papad. As we talked the portly waiter with his friendly smile arrived with the thalis. They serve in typical Bengali brass thalis. This was discussed last time with the food bloggers. It was a learning for us that brass thalis are safe for serving and one need not freak out if they are not lined with tin or Kalai. However for cooking if once kalai is done then you need to keep re-tinning. Else the surface inside becomes reactive to food.

Our thali consisted of a mango relish, mix veg Charchari, Patol Alu Malaikari, Alu poshto, Masurir Dal, Begun Bhaja, steamed rice and luchis with a tongue twister name. A balanced meal like all thalis, a dry veggies, semi thick curry, light dal, rice, a fried item, a sweet and sour relish and wheat component.

The Charchari, was a mix of brinjal, cauliflower, spinach was cooked to softness and laced with mustard paste. The taste had a balance of salty and sweet. The Patol Alu Malaikari was creamy coconut and mustard curry clinging to the vegetables. The alu poshto was superb potatoes cooked to mushiness in smooth poppy seeds paste. The Masurir dal was of medium consistency and light unlike the thick creamy Punjabi dals, it tasted perfect with rice. The bhaja or fried component of the balanced meal was begun bhaja, deep fried batter coated large slice of eggplant. The luchi had a special name and tasted different, it was light spicy puran filled. Sushmita called it Radhaballavi luchi, I had to ask her to repeat the name twice to get it, ignore that the luchi is deep fried, it’s a Bong meal after all!


Though the thali is unlimited none of us asked for more. Finally we ordered Malpua for dessert. Dad recommended we cut it up into bits and let it soak up the syrup before we pick up each piece. Did it, felt like a kid but enjoyed it.


The last time when we bloggers visited it was Poila Baishak so the Thali was more elaborate, there was a paturi – a banana leaf packet wrapped around beautiful young fieldbeans, spinach and other veggies spiced with mustard, cumin and ginger paste which was absolutely memorable.

The pricing is very reasonable considering the meal has a variety and truly satisfying, homely feel. You don’t feel like you ate at a restaurant because of the service, Sushmita and the food. 

I will be going there many times and hope Sushmita does not move to Bangalore where her married son lives now. May be Bangaloreans can coax her instead to start a branch of the lovely Bangali Mashi’s Kitchen.

Kiran rightly captured the experience, "the taste is from an old hand working at it!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tricolored Peppers N Paneer Pizza


This was a quick dinner one cold night in Blr in the winter season. I had tricolored bell peppers and a "pizza must be made" urge. No cheese except fresh paneer was in the fridge. Yet when you crave for some pizza who can stop you.

I use Jamie Oliver's recipe to make pizza dough. Those were made ready first and then topped with red chili sauce and then tomato ketchup. 

In a big bowl crumble very fresh paneer, mix in the rough chopped onions, cubed tomatoes, diced red, yellow and green bell peppers that were deseeded.
 
Finally on top the pizza bases with the mixed vegetables and paneer. I used the microwave+grill mode to bake the pizzas. It took 20 mins.

It was such a colorful meal, if there were kids around I am sure they would have been thrilled. They tasted like Paneer tikka and veggie skewer on pizza base. Yummy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wonder and Wander

Looking up at the sky the young lady wondered. Then pointing up she said, "Maa, that must be my father". Her mother a pretty women by all standards, held her to her bosom and planted a light kiss on the young woman's cheek.

Less said the better thought the older woman. She let her daughter dream. Holding the secret tight in her tummy, she went into the past. A past so colorful, the images of her dancing with the young soldier. He had just graduated. She did not recollect where she met him. He came from a very humble background and she from the middle class, yet both aspired for a good life, the life of the defence people.

It was a happy marriage most of the time. The initial years just flew as they traveled the world. Then came the daughter, the one constant happiness in her life. While the father loved the child and doted on her, she noticed the differences crop up between the couple. He tried to escape all issues by living far away and the reason being the nature of his work. He convinced the wife and the child they did not have to be living together to have a happy life. He made wandering a habit and "Wonder and Wander" his motto.

That became a norm in their life. The woman, beautiful and desirable even as she crossed 40 was now left wanting. While she was provided everything there was no love in the relationship anymore. After years of being a housewife and now even the child had grown, she wanted to work. She had never done it before.

It was a new arena, she felt confident about herself and the choices it threw at her. Working for a brand in intimate wear, got her in touch with the movers and shakers of the world. Somewhere she met the owner of the company and as they discussed the products, there were sparks flying between them. One thing led to another. She wandered.

The man of the house got the whiff. Wandering and wondering now touched his emotional and family life. The wanderer, he had no friends. Seeking friends on the net became a habit. It did not take much to loose control. Wondering how he had reached there.

Towards the end of his life, there was no home, no family just three wanderers, wondering what happened to their life. They travelled and came back just once in a while to take family pictures to show to the world, what a happy family they were. Life for them was likes and wows in the comments on Facebook.

He wandered the earth and now his soul wanders the universe, thought she. The daughter completely blissful in the ignorance. Will she be able to curb her own wandering?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Roly Poly


I was experimenting with a new recipe. The cake turned out good but when I tried to do the frosting it crumbled into a hopeless mess. A mess however can be delicious, would you believe if you saw the above picture? Or if you have eaten the famed Apple cake balls sold in the Bangalore Iyengar style bakeries. Those Apple cake balls are chocolate cake crumbs sprinkled with sugar syrup and dusted with grated coconut. The first time I tasted them I did not exactly adore them but I guess many who have grown up in Blr. love them.

So here was a mess of some yellow cake and chocolate butter cream, any one with Indian sensibilities would refuse to show the dustbin to food. I just followed my instinct, put every thing on the counter, the cake crumbs and the chocolate butter cream. Mixed well and made these delicious Roly Polys. I had just toasted peanuts and had crushed them for a breakfast of Sabudana khichadi, Dad suggested I snowball the Roly Polys in them. So you see how they gathered some peanut dust.

Then all I had to do was place those 35 pieces in a tray on the table and Lo! they were gone by evening.

Do you think you need a recipe? Nah! come on.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Subz Malaidar

This was a vegetable I made for my friends Alok, Varsha and their kid Aditya. This was long ago while I was still in Blr. They are a family that can take all the cream unlike mine. So this was just for them. I don't think I will ever make it again now with my diet restrictions. However those who love cream will love this recipe.

1/2 kg Mixed veggies chopped fine
50 ml fresh cream (I used Amul)
1 teaspoon besan / chickpea flour
few curry leaves
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kitchen king masala
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste

Whole garam masala ( 4-5 cloves + 2 tamal patra + 5-6 green cardamoms + 2 black cardamom+ 8-10 pepper corns)

Heat oil in a handi. Fry the curry leaves add the washed cleaned vegetables. Tie up a potli of the garam masala in a muslin cloth and drop it in. Add the turmeric, red chili powder and kitchen king masala. Cover and cook till vegetables are done. In a bowl beat the cream add the besan and incorporate it evenly. Pour the creamy mix into the vegetable handi. Top up with water to get a creamy consistency, I needed 2 cups of water. Leave the heat on low and allow the vegetables to simmer for 10 mins. In the end season with salt and sugar. Cover and let it rest for 15 mins before you serve.

I served my friends this Subz Malaidar with Kerala Parathas. You go enjoy it with your most favorite bread. I have a hunch this will be great with a simple pulao.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Strawberry Soft Serves



An easy peasy dessert to serve when you crave for something lovely and yummy.

This was made for family on demand and so no story to share today but come back tomorrow to meet and greet the new member in my Green Balcony.

Ingredients

1 small pack Amul fresh cream
1 cup hung yougurt
1/4 strawberry crush (Mapro)
4 tablespoon sugar

Whip together all the ingredients. Freeze in a airtight box for 2 hrs. Remove, whip to smoothness. Freeze in individual serving bowls, seal each bowl in a ziploc bags to avoid  crystallization.

Fresh strawberries and cream cannot go wrong ever. Not for the heart patients though.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Moist Chocolate Cake


Last weekend we celebrated my nephew Pranav's 13th birthday. It was on a Friday and a school day for him, so we could do the celebrations only on the next day at my home. I asked him what flavor he wanted and like any other kid he said chocolate. My bro Sumeet was on his way to order a cake from the shop saying, "We will have yours too."

Everyone including you know that I have never ever decorated a cake. Neither are my cakes rich.  Yeah but this time since it was for the kid and my family was almost brushing me off as a non decorator, I decided to do it. It was a challenge. The cakes I bake are always liked by the family. But I never make ones like store bought, which meant not rich and decorated. So I took this head on.


It was heartening to watch Master chef last weekend to see Jules Pike win in the ravioli challenge and the cconcluding comments of the judges, "Taste always wins in this kitchen."

That is true in my home too, and any home for that matter. Pushing the limits is about learning and growing. So it was time I began decorating cakes with a cream injection, piping out pretty designs, even if it means at past 40 yrs, so what?

I started my hunt for a moist cake that will make my family swoon and believe me they swooned or what! Joy of Life by Ingrid is a blog so beautiful that I will keep going to it for more, especially the bakes. Thanks Ingrid!

This is an excellent recipe in the original itself but I adapted it to what I had on hand and to my family's preferences

  • I had to make it eggless so I used flax seed powder.
  • Ghee to make it more flavorful. 
  • Instead of the brewed coffee I used instant coffee. 
  • I omitted the baking soda and instead increased the baking powder to 2.5 teaspoons.
  • I did not have vanilla extract so omitted it. It did not really make a difference as the chocolate and coffee taste rules in this cake.
  • She uses store bought dressing and sprinkles, I made my own ghee cream chocolate frosting.
  • Added the kiwi for the color and freshness as this is a cake with chocolate dressing on a chocolate cake. You can use frozen cherries too like she did.

Ingredients:

For the Cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Cadbury's cocoa powder
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup ghee, molten but at room temperature
2 tablespoons of flax seed powder soaked in 6 tablespoons water.
I used instant coffee, 3 teaspoons in a cup of water

  1. Use two mixing bowls. 
  2. In one measure out the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Sieve together to aerate it.
  3. In the other add sugar, salt and ghee and beat it till frothy.
  4. Add the butter milk slowly and keep frothing.
  5. Now fold into it the flour mix. 
  6. Add the instant coffee, should be at room temperature.
  7. Finally add the soaked flax seed powder and fold in.
  8. Now take a 7 inch round tin,  grease it a bit and dust with flour. Tap off the excess over the basin.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  10. Preheat oven at 180 deg C for 10 mins.
  11. Place the filled tin into the oven. Bake further for 35-40 mins till an inserted knife comes out clean.
  12. Cool the tin for 10 mins, then turn it over a plate and place on the rack and let it cool completely. I baked in the morning and kept it to cool thru the day.
  13. In the evening. I made the frosting.
For the Frosting 

200 gms of icing sugar
80 gms of molten ghee
80 gms of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of  instant coffee powder


  1. Froth the ghee with a beater. 
  2. Fold in the icing sugar little at a time. 
  3. Mix in the cocoa and coffee powders. 
  4. Keep frothing it till light.
  5. Slather 3/4 of the cream on the cooled cake on top and sides.
  6. Fill the piping injection and make a design on the cake. I just made some basic swirls on the border.
  7. Slice up a Kiwi into rounds to show the pretty cross sections
  8. Inside the swirls border. I created a circle of overlapping Kiwi slices.
 

A fresh fruit always lifts up deserts a notch higher in its beauty and flavors I believe. My family literally fell for this cake and I got a new respect for making a cake at home that is better than store bought.

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