October was a very exciting month and so was November! Since I have quit my job I think I am doing a lot of things I never had time for, distinctly interesting things that make me happy.
I went away to Gondavale for 10 days and returned home and guess who was here in Mumbai? Remember her first visit yes that was my first Bloggers Meet and therefore special. P of Evolving Tastes was here again.
Mails went back and forth and while I was away the ladies met up at Harini's do that I missed. So finally since no one else could make it when I was back P and me decide to meet up at Matunga. Well I wanted to take her to Gaiwadi Balaji temple in SOBO and rediscover Girgaum with her but to save travel time and the long commute we agreed finally on Matunga in keeping with the South Indian theme that we had in mind.
That afternoon, I was travelling to Matunga after very long and since it was on a week day I thought going to King circle by train was wise. After buying the ticket and travelling right upto Kurla while chatting up with a co-passenger I realized that King circle is a station on the Bandra line! Being away from Mumbai for so long I had forgotten some things and this was a relearning of sorts for me. I did know though that Guru Tej Bahadur or Sion Koliwada is a station closer to King Circle so I hopped off from the train and a helpful Sardar showed me the way to the bridge. Now I was outside the station and waving out at the cabs but none were ready to go the short distance. P was already waiting for me as she reached early and I was getting late. I jumped on to a BEST bus that went all the way near King circle, yeah the conductor pointed it out from the bus for me but suddenly the bus swung into a back lane. I was just getting so irritated with all this.
Finally I walked up to the Aastik Samaj Temple and we were happy to see each other, again! Meanwhile P had already done 3-4 rounds of that street peering at the various colorful shops. It was a hot day and we just needed to cool off in a place that had a/c. So we trooped into A. Ramanayak & Sons at King circle. It's a tiny place and looked like a women's club at that moment. Amid chatter from other tables we had Rasam vada and Mysore masala dosa, it was good, excellent chutney but sambar was more like a dal. Both of us were going to hop around to some thali place so these were like starters for us.
With the temporary fueling done we walked thru the shaded streets of Matunga and stopped to peer at the tiny Annapoorneshwari stores, shopping for Kai murukku, appams and chutney pudi, having used all of it now I can tell the stuff was quite good.
Since it was getting late for proper lunch we decided it had to be at The Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding we both were smitten by the legend. I had faint memories of eating there sometime but was so confused with the other establishments around. Well in Matunga you see a Rama Nayak's board every where, its like the Maganlal Chikki in Lonavala, there is the Idli house, the A. Ramanayak & Sons and the Nayak's sweets all are the medias pets. So with a very high expectation we walked in. We were told that a unlimited meal served on plantain leaf will be too heavy for us, the manager must have figured out we did not exactly look starved. So we bought coupons for a plate meal and walked into an area marked for ladies. Through a crowded passage and waiters balancing stacks of thalis we seated ourselves on the squeeze in tables so typical of Udipi joints making the most of the space which is more expensive than gold. As they started serving, some thing told me the food was not going to do much for us. I was so disappointed with the meal. This was not a meal that any homebody or gourmet would enjoy. The Udipi Shri Krishna food turned out to be so passable that they lived up to their name of being a bachelor's hope for South Indian food, yeah bachelors never have a choice. The worst thing was their cloyingly sweet tiny gulab jamuns that were vanilla flavored! I am never going to go there again or take any of my friends there. I may be a purist for my tastes and skills for Canara cuisine were honed in the land of the origin.
However shopping at Chheda Stores put us back in the mood. We bought lots of stuff to bring back home and the same things for P to take back to US with her. Here is my loot.
We then loitered around a bit, Nallis, Milap is a readymade blouse wonderland, a pooja item store where we found many editions of Samaithu paar but I did not buy any. P bought puja clothes for her Gauris, to be used during the season.
It was late afternoon and we were tired with all the sweating in the October heat and just needed to sit down and have a refreshing drink. P wanted to try the Mawa cake. There are legendary ones from Merwan and Yazdani but what was accessible to us was Koolar & Co. at the Kings Circle on this day. We were shown a table reserved for ladies, it had a view of the circle and was near one of the large doors that make the Irani cafes inviting. I ordered the Irani chai and a 'esspecial' for P. A tasting of brun maska and mawa cake that did not really please anyone but here is my recipe of brun that has worked every single time I make it. Oh, but I forgot to tell P that a brun maska is eaten dipped in tea! Won't you all try to make brun at home?
Then before we parted we did the food exchange, here are the gifts from P.
From the back: dried white and yellow nectarines, thyme and oregano, in the front : Turkish apricots and black beans.
I made this hearty Mexican black bean and tomato rice, it had to be an authentic dish using 2 of the items from above, black beans and oregano.
When I did the FB contest showing this rice bubbling away it was fun to see the imagination of people and their guesses. The funniest part is so many thought I was using Koli masala in it just because I announced a give away of it. Well I must say unlike my forefathers I do not add Koli masala to everything I cook ;)
Now lets go to this very easy recipe. It's delicious and protienious beany and oh so soul satisfying. It is Mexican but yet feels so Indian. We enjoyed the nutty black beans a lot and Thanks again P for all the gifts!
Recipe source: Fine cooking, I adapted the method to smarter cooking and time saving.
1 cup medium grain raw rice (I use Surti Kolam)
400 gms fresh tomato diced (original uses canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium fresh jalapeno ( I grow mine)
1 cup black beans soaked overnight
2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used Kashmiri for the vibrant color)
1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano or (as in original recipe: 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves and stems)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
salt to taste
At first pressure cook the soaked black beans for 4-5 whisltes or 30-40 mins. This will cook the beans well. The cooking time is longer as these beans are quite nutty and even when soaked hold their shape well when cooked.
Now in the cauldron heat the oil, brown the chopped garlic and add the slit jalapeno till an aroma emanates. Now add the cooked blacked beans, salt, cumin powder and chili powder. Stir and let it come together.
Add the diced tomatoes and let them crumble completely on high heat. Add 4 cups water. Reduce to a simmer. At this point wash the raw rice and add to the boiling curry. Cook covered on lowest heat till the rice grain when pressed between the thumb and fore finger feels cooked.
In the end add the oregano and the cilantro give it a nice stir and Serve steaming hot!