Monthly Archives: December 2016

Short takes: Waiter, there’s a sausage in my salad

There are many different ways to eat choris (Goan sausages, for the uninitiated). One of my favourite is this salad version…it is like you’re tricking your brain into thinking it’s healthy food when really, it’s not. But, it’s really tasty! “When I first moved to Bombay, my landlord was Catholic and his mother would sometimes cook us meals in which sausages were a staple. I feel like I’ve grown up on it,” says Karishma Dalal, the owner of The Bombay Salad Co.

The Goan Salad peppered with bits of sausage and chunks of cheese

The Goan Salad (Rs 270 for a small, Rs 410 for a large) is a mix of sausages got from an aunty in Goa, mixed with beans, black eyed peas, lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, onions, grilled zucchini and peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese and a rosemary balsamic vinegar dressing. It’s a filling salad and I love how the spiciness of the sausage plays off against the cheese and adds lovely flavour to the beans and veggies. It helps that the salad doesn’t skimp on the meat. 

The Bombay Salad Co is located at shop 1, 16th Road, Linking Road, Bandra (W); call 26000270.


Get your fix of choris in Bombay, here

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Ken-Mary’s: Snacking on Waroda Road

If you’re walking down Waroda Road, blink and you will probably miss Ken-Mary’s. Your attention would probably be on the colourful, graffiti in Jude Bakery’s shutters. 

Look on the road opposite and you will spot this tiny shop, sandwiched between a bike repair place and a house. There are always people milling about here. Customers breeze in and out, people who’ve given their bikes for repair will come to pass time, schoolkids will come for snacks and in between it all, a neighbour will pop in to say, “Switch off the tap”. The place had a comforting friendliness to the store that started four years back, about the time Jude Bakery shut down. 

Here, you can buy quick, cheap snacks – puffs, croissants, rolls, burgers, Shrewsbury biscuits, kulkuls, milk cream and neuris (during Christmas season). 

Chicken Croissant (Rs 15) has a spicy chicken and onion filling; Chicken Chilly Roll (Rs 30) with its shiny black sesame-crusted coat has a similar filling; Chicken Cheese Puff (Rs 15) has a thick, cheesy centre and Veg Puff (Rs 15) is a mishmash of veggies

The store is run by Cletus Dias, who worked at Café Andora for 18 years before coming here. They also cater parties and weddings. His recommendation is the Sugar Hearts (Rs 55 for quarter kg), a biscuit that will take you back to that sweet childhood snack, little hearts. 

The biscuits are light and flaky and despite the sugar coating,  not too sweet

The Coco Cherry (Rs 50 for quarter kg) is a buttery, nutty biscuit with a sweet bite from the cherry

Peek into their kitchen and you will find trays of soft pao and dinner rolls fresh out of the oven. 

Dinner rolls, hot dog rolls and other bread is available only on order

Sit on one of their worn leather seats and watch the world go by or just admire the beautiful bungalows opposite. If lucky, you may just hear a smattering of Konkani or someone playing the piano nearby.

Ken-Mary’s is located on 56/87-3A, Palm View, Waroda Road, Bandra; open from 7am to 9.30pm; call 9773645741  

 

 

 

Beach life: Diveagar

The plan was to take a two day break and visit an empty beach because my friend, Deepa, loves beaches. We chose Srivardhan, a little town located between Harihareshwar and Diveagar, all along the same stretch of the Konkan coast. 

We headed there early morning, in a rickety state transport bus. Three long hours later, during which time we decided we would need more than an overnight stay, we were there. At an empty bus stand. Diveagar was a 16-km tam tam (a bigger autorickshaw) ride away, through roads that snaked around mountains, cutting through tiny villages and then open expanse of sea.  

Diveagar begins from the gram panchayat junction. Our host for the night was the Joshi family, who had converted their ample courtyard into rooms-to-let. The Joshi’s house had a huge mud courtyard sparsely furnished with a jhula, a table and two dogs. The rooms were separate from the main house and had attached baths. The place was close to the beach and the only other attraction there, the Ganesh temple. 

We dropped our bags and immediately set out for the beach. The path to the beach was interesting – sprawling mansions, guest houses, and banana and coconut plantations on either side creating a leafy canopy above our heads. The farm was blocked from the road but there were a few holes through which we could scurry in and wander about, soaking in the neatly spaced trees, the irrigation system and the sudden colour from flowers. The entrance to the beach was scary. It looked like someone had set the trees on fire, and with their burn out spindly branches, they looked like burned out corpses.

The beach, however, was empty barring certain spots which were filled with horses, camels, dogs, coconut vendors and small motorised cars, the rest was empty. The lack of people proved to be a blessing. We could roam around undisturbed. It was low tide when we reached; the water was cool and the waves gently lapped around our ankles. We sat and watched the sun go down, scaring away little crabs that had covered the beach with millions of holes.

diveagara

By 7 pm, remembering our hostess’ warning to be back early, we headed back. The roads were empty and we could hear were crickets and stray dogs howling. If this was a movie, this would’ve been the time when something terrible would happen. In reality, we were more afraid of being stopped and questioned for being out ‘late’ and not finding any place open for dinner! 

It took us a couple of inquiries at the gates of a couple of places before we found a home stay willing to feed us. The food was delicious in a way that all home-cooked food is, made with generous helpings of coconut and kokum and simple spices. My Tam Bram friend was pleased to find a vegetarian thali on offer – beans in gravy, potatoes and capsicum sabji, dal, fluffy rotis and white rice.My pomfret thali was better – the fish was lightly spiced  with chilli and haldi, had crispy edges and was extremely soft. The thali also had a bangda (mackeral) curry, orange and made with coconut, it brought back memories of similar curries eaten in Goa.Our breakfast the next morning was equally delicious- soft and yellow poha, dusted with ground coconut and coriander for that extra texture and flavour.

Contrary to what villagers, and many blogs told us, there was enough to see in Diveagar. The next morning, we visited the local temple dedicated to Suvarna Ganesha was the main attraction. The main area had a reception counter that sold framed photos, offerings and other memorabilia of the temple. The outside section had a seating area and walls covered with photographs of donors and newspaper clippings. The story goes that in 1997, a woman from the village found a copper trunk containing the gold Ganesha mask and a few ornaments, while working in a coconut and betel nut garden. Later the ‘idol’ was deified and instated in the temple.

We got a good glimpse of village life and the countryside – fisherwomen arranging fish out to dry, small houses with cow dung courtyards on which clothes and red chillies were left to dry, open fields dotted with haystacks and an endless stretch of beaches. 

GETTING THERE

There are direct buses to Srivardhan (6-7 hours) and to Mangaon (also accessible by train). Mangaon has regular buses to Srivardhan. From there, you take a shared tam tam to Diveagar (Rs20).

NOTE

  • The bus ride takes about five hours so head out early in the morning. 
  • Most home stays don’t serve food too late so carry along snacks for those midnight cravings.   

 

Rekha Bhardwaj

Rekha Bhardwaj is a lovely person. The kind that will constantly message you apologizing for being late for your telephonic interview because she has lunch plans and got stuck in traffic. It’s a Sunday and you really want to speak to her, so you drop everything else you are doing when she calls. The preparation for the interview is little – there’s an upcoming Sufi festival and she is performing at it. It’s a short interview and you have five questions read, all related to her journey with Sufi, which began with her first album Ishqa Ishqa in 2000.

Then she calls and talks to you for an hour, refusing your requests to call her back.

She may have some beautiful numbers (how soulful is Phir Le Aya Dil?) in Bollywood films but there’s a downside. “Bollywood has become very big and everyone wants you to do something from it. so, even if I’m doing a show that’s pegged on Sufi or classical music, moment you go on stage, after three songs you get a request for Genda Phool,” she says, laughing. “I don’t mind because there are elements of Sufi in all my songs.”

It was but natural that our conversation would turn to Gulzar saab. She considers him her master, her guru, her guide and everything in between. “Earlier, just after I was married, whenever he came over, I used to stay quiet. He would just greet me. I would serve him chai and listen to the two of them talk. But over the years, our relationship has changed,” she says.

“I am fortunate that most of my songs have been written by him. His lyrics are poetry so 60% of my work is already done,” she says. If there’s one song of theirs that he asks for, it is Dil Hoom Hoom Kare and Abhi Mujhe Koi. “He loves my singing.” Then again, who doesn’t?

She even sang a few lines of Phir Le Aya Dil to me and I was in raptures. On a separate note, can every interview of mine end with someone singing to me? 

 

My full interview is here: Sufi with Rekha Bhardwaj