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Batter days

mumbai Updated: Apr 13, 2013 01:19 IST
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Locho, in Gujarati, means ‘mistake’, or as Jani Khaman & Locho House likes to describe it, ‘something fishy’ — in the figurative sense, of course.

The menu board behind the open-to-the-pavement, but very clean, kitchen counter provides a little history.

Once upon a time in Surat, a cook erroneously added too much water to his khaman (yellow dhokla) batter, making it more like a mash than a sponge.

To cover up his ‘locho’, he loaded it with toppings. But that did more than conceal the mistake. It added colour, crunch and flavour to the steamed, mildly spiced batter of wet-ground chana and udad dal. A whole new dish was created, one that went on to become an instant hit on the streets of Surat. (Talk about ultra-regional.)

JKLH, one of Surat’s most popular locho eateries, is now in Borivli, not far from the Gujarat Samaj Marriage Bureau.

At this stall, the locho gets most of the dressing up. In addition to chaat masala powder, chopped onions and sev, customers can choose toppings such as peanut oil, melted butter, cheese and mayo.

There are also rolls made with locho, and new variants in the coming week will include Chinese, Manchurian, and tiranga (made with yellow and white locho and green chutney).

This is food that goes from comfort to crazy in seconds, thanks to its trimmings. Newbies should try the butter; it’s worth the nap you’ll need after.

Their Surti street snacks don’t stop here. There’s idada, a pillowy but non-fermented, non-sour white dhokla; a khaman dhokla that beats most of the ones we’ve tried before, and not just because of lashings of peanut oil; and khamani — crumbled khaman dhokla tempered and topped with sev and garlic chutney.

JKLH allows takeaways, but all of this tastes best hot and fresh. (If you must, ask for each dish’s elements to be packed separately)

Food like this gets diamond traders down to the streets, and in paroxysms. Why should we resist?


Sibling revelry

Going by their online reviews, Bandra (East) residents are huge fans of Kung Food. They are loyalists, making repeat visits to this restaurant that offers cheap Chinese. (Their most expensive items are generous seafood mains for Rs. 160.)

Temple One in Mahim is, for all practical purposes, Kung Food’s SoBo sibling — gussied up, but still of the family.

TO has the same owners and serves almost everything that Kung Food does, with several additions to make it pan-Asian.

If there is Manchurian and Kung Pao on the menu, there is also Indonesian pecel and Korean bokkeum.

TO also has an extensive drinks menu, and it’s pushing towards being taken as a fine-dining restaurant in grungy Mahim — there are low pleather sofas, wooden tables, a wash of tobacco-brown paint, and the wall along the stairway leading upstairs is calligraphed with Chinese characters. The menu is not spared, most seafood mains cost Rs. 240.

For TO, vegetarian dishes are heavily dependent on tofu and cottage cheese in all manner of sauces; seafood means rawas and prawn, and the only meat is chicken.

Each dish is described thoroughly on the menu, and each one has been Indianised to some degree, with some having only tenuous links to the original recipes. Batter-frying is a beloved technique — our orange pepper chicken, bokkeum prawns, pecel cottage cheese and drunken fish were all subjected to it, before being dredged in sauce.

But there is no denying that this is satisfying, if lowbrow, food and there is a definite place for that. Mahim West doesn’t have any other Asian restaurants, and TO, built to be a neighbourhood joint, is certainly more honest and laid-back than the Awchat properties down the road.

— Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
(HT pays for all meals and events, and reviews anonymously)

Also on the plate

Songkran festival
at Red Zen

Thailand’s Songkran festival gets its name from the Sanskrit word Sankranti, and signifies a similar passing of the seasons. Red Zen marks the festival with a special menu of dishes such as tofu with chilli basil sauce in crispy wonton cup, Sichuan pepper and sesame-marinated dried pork, Thai shrimp paste clear soup with minced prawn and mixed vegetables, sautéed potatoes in Thai chilli basil sauce, Thai lemongrass crème brûlée, and sweet mango with coconut sticky rice.
WHERE: Courtyard by Marriott, First Floor, Andheri-Kurla Road, Andheri (E)
WHEN: Till April 21, 7 pm to 11 pm
CALL: 6136-9999

Unlimited lunch
at Busaba

A daily-changing, unlimited weekday lunch menu is now available at both branches of Busaba. The menus include popular dishes such as momos, satay, kaukswe, sushi, and Thai curry.
WHERE: 4, Mandlik Road, Colaba; and Todi Mills, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel
WHEN: Monday to Friday, 11 am to 3 pm
COST: R600 per head
CALL: 2204-3769; 6747-8971


THE EXHIBITION

On the road

Artist Amitabh Kumar’s exhibition, Message to Zero, seeks to act as a bridge between street art and gallery art.

An alumnus of the art school of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Kumar often paints on streets. Over the past few days, he has created large murals on 15 structures across the city, including residential buildings, factories and godowns in Colaba, Chor Bazaar, Byculla and Malad.

The murals, Kumar’s personal responses to the city, were then recreated as art works on paper and are currently on display at the Guild art gallery.

“I am not trying to send out any message through the images,” says Kumar. “I just want to encourage people to engage with art in public spaces.”

Visitors to Kumar’s exhibition will be given maps to the actual sites where Kumar first created the public art, as a way of urging them on.

“I want to explore, through such exhibitions, how the diverse practices of being a muralist and an artist can come together,” he says.

— Riddhi Doshi


THE GIG

Meet the fire starter


The latest in a stream of big-draw international electronic dance music acts coming to Mumbai — including Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, Avicii and Armin van Buuren — is Grammy-award winning house and techno DJ Dubfire. The Iranian-American artist will perform at Blue Frog on Saturday, in addition to popular Mumbai-based DJs Ankytrixx, Oozeundat, MMat and Nik & Raj.

“This is going to be a big night,” says Jehan Johar, head of programming at Blue Frog. “Usually, our electronica acts don’t start till 10.30 pm. This time, we’ve carefully curated a mix of DJs to create a sort of mini-dance-music festival, so the gigs start as early as 8 pm and will go on well past midnight.”

Before launching his solo career, Dubfire was one-half of Deep Dish, a duo of house music producers and DJs nominated for a Grammy music award four times. Dubfire plays a dark shade of techno music and is known for remixing a diverse range of artists, from Michael Jackson and Madonna to Justin Timberlake and the Rolling Stones.
— Pankti Mehta

THE CONCERTS

Songs of spring

Violinist Sunita Bhuyan will perform twice in the city this weekend, summoning in her pieces visions of the natural beauty of her native Assam, with its mighty Brahmaputra river, elegant Bihu dancers and flower-filled spring season.

Now settled in Mumbai, Bhuyan is the daughter and student of senior violinist Minoti Khaund and has also trained under the late violin maestro VG Jog. In addition to Hindustani classical music, Bhuyan also plays Indian folk and jazz.

We last heard Bhuyan perform during a moving musical tribute to the late Bhupen Hazarika at the Udayan festival last year, when she played raga Hamsadhwani with artistry. We are looking forward to this weekend’s performance.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, Suresh Chandavarkar of the Society of Indian Record Collectors will conduct a listening session in Andheri dedicated to the works of the late Gangubai Hangal, doyenne of the Kirana gharana.

Hangal, whose birth centenary was observed last year, contributed, through her vocal performances, music that was as emotive as it was powerful.

“The listening sessions will feature records and videos from my personal archives,” says Chandavarkar, a cultural activist. “These audio-visuals will take listeners back to a bygone era of what is now vintage music.”

— Amarendra Dhaneshwar