Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sanpada gets spicy with a Masala Table

As we walked into the restaurant, I could smell that its new. The decor is trendy, at first the sofas give you a feel of a Chinese place but the the walls show a trail of Indian with a Mughal style painting on the wall and a motif reminiscent of a jharokha jaali. The cubicle walls at the far end got me curious and I walked closer to look at the phulkari work hung up there. The restaurant was still warming up to people as it was just 7.30pm.

We settled down at a table next to the window that overlooked the traffic on Palm beach road. It was night and speeding cars and flashing lights looked lovely. In the day time one can see the mangroves from the restaurant as the Masala Table in located on the first floor. I like restaurants that are cut off from the buzz and give a feeling of space, especially in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. This one is not really big but can accommodate about 50 people comfortably. Introductions followed, Pooja who runs #NaviMumbaifoodies had invited Rhea, Sudha and me for the review. I was meeting Pooja and Sudha for the first time, while Rhea and me have known each for sometime now. We got talking about the food scene in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai as the manager presented us with personalized menus. 

The thirst quencher arrived and thrilled all four of us, it was the North Indian version of limboo sharbat with absolutely fresh mint blended into it. The Shikanji set a tone, perfectly chilled.

Paneer Zaituni tikka & Dahi ke kabab

Aloo Chatpate! You will order seconds...

After checking our preferences we were served veg and non veg starters. Paneer Zaituni tikka which is paneer with olives sandwiched and grilled just right to leave the paneer still soft and bite-able. The Shakarkand ki tikki had honest flavors, low spiced it need an accompaniment of chutney with it. The Chukandar ki Shami was beetroot and potato laced with cardamom it was lovely to bite into a rare cardamom seed in the kabab. The Hariyali roll was light green bread roll with few peanuts in it, no charachter of its own. The Dahi ke kabab was delicious with raisins lending a beautiful sweetness to the slight tartness of curd and silkiness of the paneer interrupted only by the nuts. They were melt in the mouth texture. The show stealer in the starters were the Aloo Chatpate. How can anyone not trip over soft-cooked baby potatoes coated is creamy masala just clinging to the aloo? We asked for seconds.

The non vegetarians were particularly happy with chatpati murgoli, marble sized meat balls done in the same masala as the aloo. Ought to be good. The Murgh zaffrani tikka got a thumbs up from Kurush who happen to join us later. The meat eaters enjoyed the other starters of Murgh angara kabab, Awadhi mutton boti kabab and Jhinga Kalimirch too.

Murgh zaffrani tikka
 Jhinga Kalimirch & Murgh angara kabab

We were stuffed by the starters itself and the manager came to check with us if we wanted to go for the buffet or a la carte but the menu read the same for both! So we chose the buffet anyways.

I'm not a fan of buffet menus so I took a peek at everything lined up first. The staff was very helpful and answered my questions patiently.

The main course line up was Paneer kalimirch, Alu nariyal aur chutneywale, Subz pancharatni, Arhar dal tadka, Kathal ki biryani and Veg Kheema kaleji. Now let me explain to you the Veg Kheema kaleji, it is a creamy concoction of soya granules from which it gets the kheema in the name and the kaleji is the mushroom. Its a very veg dish with a no bars non veg name and the veg among us were taken aback by it. Take me seriously change the name if you want more people to enjoy the dish. It isn't outstanding but was tasty enough and no one will turn up their noses on it. I missed the Kathal biryani altogether not by choice, may be I should go back for it.

Alu nariyal aur chutneywale & Veg Kheema kaleji
Paneer kalimirch
The non-veg mains were murgh saagwala and mutton do pyaza and the meat eaters looked pleased with it. Atleast they weren't complaining with the name or the taste.

There was raw papaya salad, that was a Thai take in the "Indian at heart" Masala Table. But because it tasted good I forgive the inspired chef. I eyed the papaya relish. Sudha this pic is for you. The majority consensus was a double like for it. Thinly sliced raw papaya in jaggery laced with kalonji. Yum! For an accompaniment it did fantastically for us to be eaten on its own.

The papaya that was relished!

The desserts were Chukandar ka halwa which Kurush liked. I loved the Shahi tukda, it was non greasy yet creamy, Sudha liked the caramel cheesecake. The mango mousse and pineapple pastry don't count.

I haven't forgotten the soups but wish to talk on them last only because seriously the restaurant needs a good vegetarian soup recipe. The Singhade aur pudine ka shorba was singhade ke atte ka garam green pani. Nothing more to say. Even the mint did not give it flavour. The meat eaters were happy with their Murgh badami shorba which was a  simple clear tasty broth.

Chefs must not forget when designing a menu no two items having the same flavor should follow in sequence. Unless one experience leads to another and is only heightened further. I had to point this out as the Shikanji which won our hearts was followed by a Singhade aur pudine ka shorba both had mint and the second dish failed miserably. Else if serving same flavors provide palate cleansers. In this case however there was no chance even for that, as a welcome drink was followed by a soup!

The conversations were good and I made new friends. The service was doting I'd say as we were there to review the restaurant and it was not an anonymous one. We being bloggers click every single thing we eat so the servers had to be told to slow down a bit so that we can click and yet eat warm food. Some stuff got cold but we still enjoyed it enough.

In the end the shikanji had to be called for again to make sure we burped happily. Would I go again? May be. The place is new and hoping they will go from happy to Wow!

I'm scouting places for small parties for my family as there are celebrations coming up soon and I can say Masala Table is shortlisted.

This is a paid review yet all opinions are honest and my own.

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