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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

A toast to the coast

Hindustan Times  Mumbai, March 02, 2013
First Published: 02:04 IST(2/3/2013) | Last Updated: 02:06 IST(2/3/2013)

The food
It was their first Saturday dinner, and the staff at Kurry Klub didn’t know what just happened. At 8.30pm, every seat at the warmly-lit restaurant was taken. Colaba families, showing off in equal measure the neighbourhood’s cosmopolitanism and even more, its tremendous appetite, had decided to pile into the restaurant, which hadn’t yet advertised itself or even printed its final menu.

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Kurry Klub, like its fleeting predecessor Nitya Sagar, is first about seafood, with a focus on Indian coastal dishes. From this it leaps off into ‘international’ seafood, and then again tangentially — to cover all diet preferences — into vegetarian, poultry and meat dishes.

Unlike the more touristy and pricey Trishna and Mahesh, the 100-plus dishes at KK run from R125 from starters to R395 for mains, unless they involve a whole lobster, crab or pomfret, in which case they are as per catch — pricier, but undoubtedly fresh. (Just after our menus showed up, a live crab did too, hovering over the shoulder of my dining companion, in the hands of a server.)

We watched the goldfish in KK’s aquarium, as we tucked into our bombil fry. The fried fish’s crust (of coarse rice flour) cracked open most pleasurably to reveal creamy flesh coated with spicy marinade. With our balchao and neer dosa, it became clear that the eatery was serving up their own interpretations of recipes. The spicy-vinegary balchao was creamy, like a thick gassi; the dosa was more like the glutinous wrapping on cheung fun. KK is owned by the folks who own the eponymous multi-cuisine ‘fusion’ restaurant in Kolkata. (They also tried replicating it in Bandra, cuisine and all, but it didn’t work out, so they’re giving it a fresh start.) Their versions of dishes at the new place are not less delicious, just different, somewhat non-traditional.

My vegetarian dining companion liked the sambar enough to call for seconds. Not so much the Korean grilled veggies. As is common with a lot of mid-range restaurants, KK’s food can be heavy on salt, spices and oil. The large, plump decapods in the prawns sukke, and the mushrooms in puli munchi masala suffered for it.

There are obvious reasons why KK is already popular. There is enough variety on the well-priced menu for you to have over 20 unique meals at the restaurant, even if some fall short. (We picked up squid ghee roast, caldo verde, and surmai in hot bean sauce on another day and made good work of them, especially the ghee roast.) But more importantly, the service — which can slow down during heavy business — makes diners feel liked. Servers explain dishes patiently, listen to feedback, make changes, offer off-the-menu dishes, and warn diners who are over-ordering. Kurry Klub makes up for a little extra salt with a whole lot of soul. The first is easily fixed, the second not as common as it should be.

-Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)

Tri harder
Hotel lobby restaurants often try to be as pleasant and inoffensive as possible. And thus it is with Trifecta, which has recently replaced Opa at Juhu’s Hotel Royal Garden. The sparely designed room does have some design accents — the wine bottle sculpture at the entrance, a wall of wooden slats separating it from the lobby — but like the hotel housing it, it’s all unremarkable.

The name reflects the cuisines in the three-part menu, its sections vaguely defined as ‘Indian’, ‘Oriental’ and ‘Continental’. The non-specific tone continues with the flavours. The cold Burmese salad of glass noodles and prawns felt like it was missing a unifying element. My dining companion’s Cool Cucumber mocktail turned out better than my sugary Tamarind Cumin one. Of everything we tried, the non-veg platter stood out most — three each of five kinds of kebabs — each distinctly flavoured and cooked just right.

Barbeque pork ribs, when done well, encourage you to gnaw at them and get sticky and messy. At Trifecta, we pulled at slightly fibrous meat with our forks from what was mostly chunks of fat, coated with a flat sauce. A topping of pillowy meringue rescued our Thai Cloud Fish, which was essentially otherwise batter-fried, sauced chunks of basa. The Baileys mousse cake was competently done, though more creamy chocolate than Irish cream. Essentially, the entire meal could have been more memorable.

Hotel guests will find Trifecta convenient enough: the menu is long, it features mostly popular standard dishes from all three cuisines — tikkas, Manchurian, pastas, paninis, and so on — so there are enough offerings to meet most tastes. To build a clientele beyond this, Trifecta would do well to distinguish itself. It’s not like there is a lack of places to dine at in the neighbourhood.

-Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

The exhibition
Mumbai’s new web of identity

For the next three months if you happen to visit the Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla, you will be greeted by a huge cobweb shape made entirely of various rubber-stamp-shaped blocks at the entrance. The installation has been set up right on the facade of the monumental building and each stamp bears the colonial name of a Mumbai street that now goes by an indigenous one. For instance, Arthur Road (now Sane Guruji Marg), Apollo street (now Bombay Samachar Marg) and Flora Fountain (now Hutatma Chowk). Interestingly, the museum’s name, too, has changed from Victoria & Albert Museum to it’s current moniker.

The Untitled (Cobweb/Crossing) is created by artist Reena Kallat who has been using the motif of a rubber stamp in her art practice for two decades. “It is used as an object and an imprint, signifying the bureaucratic apparatus that both confirms and obscures identities,” says Kallat.

The names on the stamps signify the moment of transformation of the city, a juncture when an attempt was made to give more importance to the indigenous version of Mumbai’s history than its colonial past. 

This installation will be on view from March 3 to May 19 and later will be donated to the museum. It is a part of the collaborative of ZegnaArt Public, an initiative to promote public art by Milano-based fashion company Ermenegildo Zegna Group and the Bhau Daji Lad museum. 

The jury of the two organisations selected Kallat’s work over ten other shortlisted ideas of artists such as Atul Bhalla, Gigi Scaria and Hema Upadhyay. “Reena’s bold work pushes the envelope. It grabs people’s attention and make them ask and think why is the work here, initiating a public dialogue,” says Tasneem Mehta, director of the Bhau Daji Lad museum

— Riddhi Doshi

The gigs
Shifting sands

If you are bored with trite contemporary acts filling up the city’s gig calendar, this weekend is your chance to return to the roots. The intense, hypnotic and dramatic side of Rajasthani folk music — Manganiar and Langa — travels from the Thar Desert to the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and Blue Frog.

Manganiars and Langas are Muslim communities of Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in west Rajasthan. As musicians, poets and singers, they’ve been entertaining aristocrats and wealthy landlords for decades. Both groups sing in the same dialect, but what varies is “who” they sing to — the Manganiars invariably sing for Hindu Rajputs, Langas for wealthy Muslim and Mughal families. These communities are known for their strong vocal repertoire, riveting stage presence and magical stories behind their songs. The singers cover weddings and birth announcements to devotional songs which explains their popularity with patrons. 

Tonight, you can buy a ticket to Day 2 of NCPA’s annual festival, Living Traditions, which showcases lesser-known Indian folk traditions. The second day of this two-day festival will have performances by the Langa community of Rajasthan — Sarangiya Langas and Sumaiya Langas, whose music is interspersed with the story-telling tradition of varta, a mix of narration and song. The Sindhi Sarangi and the Algoza (double flute) will feature as their main instruments as well as a variety of wind instruments will be part of this presentation.

Tomorrow, shift all focus to Rajasthan Josh, as Manganiar singers and musicians from Jaisalmer led by maestro singer Chugge Khan, play at Blue Frog. The group has performed at every edition of the Jaipur Literary Festival and now it brings its devotional songs, Sufi, qawwali, contemporary compositions and gypsy dance to the city.

Their music is seeped in local tradition but embraces contemporary style to create a sound that is rhythmic, hypnotic and mystical. You don’t want to miss it.

-Bhairavi Jhaveri

The concert
Ladies’ special

In the coming week, there will be a spate of programmes celebrating International Women’s Day. Khayal Trust and Kalabharati, which has been organising special programmes since the year 2000, hold the Women Musicians’ Festival, a themed concert that draws attention to women’s issues.

A special feature of this festival is its inclusion of women instrumentalists. Sitar players such as Sahana Bannerjee and Mita Nag and Vichitra Veena players such as Radhika Umdekar Budhkar have previously been offered platforms, as have female table players such as Mukta Raste and Anuradha Pal. “The tabla is supposed to be a male preserve but our festival has corrected this wrong notion by featuring women players of merit whose talent needs more exposure,” said Prakash Burde of Kalabharati.

This year, Hetal Mehta Joshi , a reputed tabla exponent from Ahmedabad will play alongside senior sitar player Manju Mehta. It will be a highlight of the festival in a way — Manju Mehta is an outstanding sitar player and a senior pupil of Ravi Shankar.

Look out for young Gauri Pathare, a front ranking singer of the young generation. Pathare first trained under her mother Dr Vidya Damle and later the well known singers Jitendra Abhisheki and Padma Talwalkar. She is already a recipient of the coveted Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze award instituted by the Bharat Gayan Samaj and was also the recipient of the Swarabhaskar Puraskar, an award instituted in the memory of the legendary Bhimsen Joshi. At the festival, Pathare will be accompanied on the tabla by Sanjeevani Hasabnis and on the harmonium by Supriya Joshi. 

The event, conceived by Neela Bhagwat, celebrates the female in Marathi, Gujrati, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Assamese and Bangla folk songs. Among the performers are singers Radhika Sood Nayak and Manisha Kulkarni. There will also be a presentation on the depiction of the woman in the short stories of the last century by Pune-based scholar Vandana Bokil Kulkarni.

-Amarendra Dhaneshwar


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