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Forget the familiar, just go funky!

Dining out in Mumbai is no longer just about Butter Chicken, Macaroni Cheese and the plain old kulfi.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2010 17:17 IST
Hindustan Times

Dining out in Mumbai is no longer just about Butter Chicken, Macaroni Cheese and the plain old kulfi. Salt Water Café in Bandra changed its menu recently and the new dishes include Shiitake and Tea Soup and Garam Masala and Kokum Sorbet. Here’s a checklist of some of the other funky dishes on the menu at city eateries.

Chocolate Gulab Jamun
Yeah, you can find this at the Punjab Grill in Lower Parel. They have Gulab Jamun that are either filled with melted Swiss white chocolate, Nutella or honey-almond paste. It’s the final flambee with rum that is the crowning touch. We’re told the plan is to come up with a Liquor Gulab Jamun next. “I was working on a fusion dessert and Gulab Jamun being one of the most accepted Indian sweets, drifted into my mind.

Since it is dark brown, I thought of putting white chocolate inside as a contrast,” explains Jiggs Kalra, who conceived the restaurant chain.“My son who runs the restaurant wanted dark chocolate, so we came up with both. The concoction is a huge success.”

Wasabi/ Peanut Kulfi
Ok, so you’ve tried Mango and Pistachio Kulfi. What about a Wasabi or Peanut one? Azok by Vineet is serving up Banana, Cumin and Honey Cake with Roasted Almond Cream and Wasabi Kulfi or Chilled Rose Petal and Chestnut Kheer with Caramelised Peanut Kulfi. In the first, a western-style banana cake is given an Indian touch with cumin seeds.

The Wasabi makes the otherwise sweet Kulfi a little bitter. In the second dish, the peanuts are crushed into a toffee-like paste and added to the Kulfi for a crunchy texture.Vijay Pandey, executive chef, says: “We didn’t want to make the typical flavoured kulfis as we are a fine dining restaurant and we wanted to offer high-end options. We are getting a good response to the Wasabi Kulfi as Japanese food is growing in popularity.

The Peanut Kulfi and the Rose Petal Kheer are also big draws. Kheer usually has saffron, but we have added rose petals and rose syrup. Both desserts appeal to foreigners, less orthodox locals, and guests, who like something different.”

Seasonal Kulfi with Tandoor Fruits
This is regular kulfi served with a skewer of tandoori fresh fruit. You might normally eat smoked vegetables, but at Bonobo they are grilling seasonal fruits instead. Marinated in honey, chilli powder, cumin powder and cinnamon powder, the fruits are tipped into a hot tandoor to give them a smoky flavour. One of the partners, Sahil Timbadia, points out that the spicy, smoky flavour of the fruit contrasts well with the sweet, creamy kulfi.

“A lot of customers order it out of curiosity since they have never heard of anything like this before. And several of them repeat the order,” Timbadia beams. He says that the menu at Bonobo is basically Euro-centric. This was an attempt to add an Indian touch to it. “Even our Chicken Tandoori isn’t red, but covered in mustard and fenugreek. This is all Indian-inspired fusion food,” he explains.

Think wealth. Think gold. You will feel like a king as you eat an 18-carat edible real gold dust–coated chocolate truffle that lies on top of this warm chocolate pudding. The pudding explodes with gooey liquid chocolate as you break it and is accompanied by a white chocolate and Jalapeno pesto. Amedei chocolate is one of the most expensive chocolates in the world.

Says Chef Brainard Colaco, corporate executive chef for Mocha, “We don’t sell many of these because of the price. But once you have sampled it, you want it again. We use jalapeno because the pudding tends to get a little sweet and this gives it a tangy and spicy edge. I wanted to project this as the world’s finest chocolate and, whilst researching, I came across this edible gold dust. It was perfect for a high-end dessert.”

Non-vegetarian and vegetarian cocktails
The word ‘cocktail’ usually conjures up fruits, sodas and creams. Maybe liqueurs, bitters and spirits. But a chicken-flavoured cocktail? A year ago, Atrium Lounge at Taj Lands End came up with a range of vegetable and meat-based cocktails. Here are two of the 10 cocktails profiled in their ‘Kitchen Meets the Bar’ menu.

This whisky-based cocktail, served in a brandy balloon, contains chicken stock. Mushroom is added to accentuate the savoury taste and lemon leaf, to add to the fragrance. The consistency is the same as that of a Consomme, but it tastes like chicken soup, with the flavour of whisky. Garlic crostini is served on the side.

Concassed Tomato Water with Chargrilled Bacon
This vodka-based cocktail, served in a Martini glass, is a twist on the traditional Bloody Mary. It is vodka that the chefs at the Taj use, infused with bacon. You also get basil leaf, garlic pods and the juice of blanched tomatoes in the mix, which is served with Nachos and salsa.

Pepper Banana Chip Crusted Trout
This is trout covered in banana chips!.It comes with corn-based salsa and a chilly sauce. The banana chips add texture and flavour to the fish and the salsa is made by roasting corn gives it a smoky taste.

Says Gresham Fernandes, group executive chef (fine dining) for the Impresario Group: “We settled for banana because of its high carbohydrate content. The dish is pretty popular. We are getting through 40kgs of trout per week.”

Hot Chocolate Soup
Using 69 per cent dark chocolate, some cream and milk, Mocha Mojo has come up with this extraordinary concoction served in a soup bowl with a soup spoon. Marshmallows and almond biscotti float on top of what looks like a meat broth that you can slurp. “It’s really popular because it’s served in a soup bowl. At Mocha we like to have fun and present our food in unconventional ways,” explains Chef Brainard Colaco, corporate executive chef for Mocha.

Uttapam Lasagne
Lasagne is usually made with layers of pasta, right? In between you get either minced beef or vegetables. Now contemporary fine dining Indian restaurant, Azok by Vineet, in Juhu has come up with Uttapam Lasagne, using South Indian rice bread stuffed with scrambled masala cottage cheese, a la egg bhurji.

It is in essence a South Indian dish with a Konkan twist, inspired by Lasagne, and served with sambar and chutney.Vijay Pandey, executive chef of Azok by Vineet, says: “People are more health conscious nowadays and they don’t want anything heavy for their main course. This dish is light, nutritious and uses no oil or rich sauce.”

Shiitake Tea and Tenderloin Soup
This soup arrives in a mug with a tea bag floating inside. It’s made up of the liquid left over after soaking dried shiitake mushrooms. Tenderloin steak bouillon is thrown in for flavour and a few steak chunks too, for good measure. The piece de resistance is the tea bag, which contains dried ginger, shiitake and tea. You dip it in.

“The steak and shiitake match each other too because they both represent the umami (fifth or meaty/brothy) taste,” explains Gresham Fernandes, group executive chef (fine dining) for the Impresario Group.“We need to soak the dried shiitake mushrooms anyway for other dishes and decided to use the liquid left behind for a soup.

We wanted to make sure it was like tea so we added the tea bag. It’s more like a tea infusion than a soup,” he says.He adds that the item is popular mainly with the expats. He points out, “Locals think it’s a mushroom tea, which is the opposite of their usual milky sweet tea.”

Kokum Sorbet and Garam Masala
Kokum is normally had at the beginning or end of a meal as a digestive drink, or used as a sour spice in savoury dishes, mainly from South India and Goa. Salt Water Café in Bandra has created a kokum (or sour plum) flavoured sorbet, and added garam masala to it. It’s a dessert! Says Gresham Fernandes, group executive chef (fine dining) for the Impresario Group, “I was creating a 10-course Goan meal for a client once and came up with this dessert.

Since typical Goan desserts are very rich and milkbased, I decided to use kokum instead. “It’s our Indian equivalent of raspberry sorbet. The garam masala gives it a very desi flavour,” he adds. “It’s popular because a lot of people want something light and low in calories after dinner. Also, it’s cheap and refreshing in the heat. It tends to be the more sophisticated types that are opting for it,” says the chef.

First Published: Apr 25, 2010 16:02 IST