Thursday, December 8, 2011

"I am fulfilling" The Yoga House

Quinoa, tofu, wheatgrass, 10 grain breads, oatmeal, fresh juices, porridge, berries, nuts, paneer, sprouts, alfalafa & organic. One word- Powerfoods. I am always skeptical about such foods since I really love my meats and can't fathom most of the time eating out on purely vegetarian and really such healthy sounding food. 

My lovely friend Mark invited me to brunch at the Yoga House. He said its his new favourite place in Bandra. I arrived at this old house with a lovely verandah painted white with a row of tables and benches on either side with pillows. An old door that lead to an all blue azure room with a green chandelier. There were grey mattresses on the floor with orange pillows. Light streaming in from the windows. All the trimmings, doors, windows were white. It was a cheery space, relaxed the kinds you would imagine on a seaside in Greece but we were almost on the seaside in Bandra. Mark sat there relaxed totally fitting in with the space. The smile on his face showed pure satisfaction for finding this beautiful space. I was there with Sangeeta, Anand and Natasha. We ordered everything off the lunch menu- Quinoa burgers, Miknaos toast, Paneer burger, the Yogi's lunch, coffee, juices, and the healthy chocolate mousse. The food was amazing- the raw, colorful salads with sprouts, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, the fulfilling quinoa grain. I had seen quinoa around- but this was the first time I was eating it. The servings were not huge and I was skeptical if I would be full. But I was- not stuffed that I was uncomfortable, just perfectly happy with my meal. In fact I was energetic enough to walk back home with Mark (2 kms) something that does not happen usually after lunch. It was so good that evening I went back to the Yoga house to get some tea and laddoos. This masala tea had lemongrass and ginger. It was subtle and wonderful.
In fact I loved it so much that I went back there a week later with my friend Gopal for breakfast after a photo shoot. This breakfast was stellar as well. Slices of peanut butter on 10 grain bread, scrambled tofu sandwich, and a large healthy looking hash brown with cheese pancake. We ordered this with Caffe Frappe, Cappuccino, and a lovely banana milkshake (the best I have had). This time we sat on the outside patio in a window seat. The sun was still rising, the main blue room had a yoga class in progress. Bandra was slowly stirring and here we were with wonderful breakfast right in the shadow of St. Andrew's cross. White bougainvilleas crawling over the balcony. Gopal took some lovely pictures of me enjoying the morning sun and this delicious breakfast.
Ive been to the Yoga House now several times. Each time it has been a delightful experience. The owners Maud and Ajit are extremely welcoming. Maud teaches yoga there as well. I hope to take a class with her one of these days. There is also a little shop attached where they sell some lovely cotton clothing, pottery from Benares, and some other knick knacks.

Can I say it enough- I love The all vegetarian, very organic, completely fulfilling Yoga House. 

Many of the pictures that follow including some of the lovely portrait shots of me have been taken by MS Gopal the wonderful photographer of Mumbai Paused. He is a self claimed non- foodie but was a complete trooper to try out food outside his comfort zone. He did mention that he felt fulfilled for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Somethings are just worth doing...

Like this blog. I have been looking for reasons for not telling my stories anymore. But then I just realized what a great space this is and I must let it grow and evolve. Maybe play with the media and all- videos, sound bytes etc. 

It is strange that the 100th post (yes I hit my 100th before Tendulkar) is not really about food. Its not some gastronomical explosion of delight. Its about where I am right now. Discovering new music, traveling, wandering, designing, dating and yes eating. This show called The Dewarist on TV, I feel has somehow changed my life. Its a show that is about collaboration, exploring a new place in India with its sounds, its food, about roots and about the sheer love of making music. Its an explosion of energy and the music is amazing. And so there would be the Dewarists Stage at NH7 that made me decide to head out to Pune for the weekend two weeks back. 

I got in touch with my friend Melissa who was also interested in going. We did not really have a place to stay and left things to fate. Last minute her friend Snehal offered to host us. So the two of us with a backpack on an AC bus took off to Pune. The moment we stepped on that bus- adventure had begun. AC was broken, the passengers threatened to sue the bus company, boys with bad taste talking loudly. We finally reached Pune in one piece 4 hours later. There was a young girl who looked pretty lost and asked us if we were headed to NH7. We told her to jump in our rickshaw. This was probably the most entertaining rickshaw ride ever. This young girl all of 18 told us things about her life that would make many people's ears burn and turn red. But not us old ladies we were told that she was here to be with a boy who currently has his 'tongue down her best friends throat' and about 'sloppy threesomes'. 

Something interesting about Pune no one seemed to know where this festival was except for my GPS on the phone and it took us down some strange roads. Finally we made it. It was like being transported to a land of different energy, not overly crowded, very chill organizers and volunteers. Lots of nice looking people. I pushed my way to the Dewarist stage (well an exaggeration- it was very easy to find)And what music followed the rest of the night- Soulmate belting with one of the best voices I have ever heard, The Raghu Dixit Project - pure energy and then Imogen Heap. Brilliant, mindblowing, quirky, performance. The energy of the crowd was brilliant. After the show we wandered out in happy unison, satisfied, nourished, and walked out to realise there will be no rickshaws to take us home. So we walked and hitchhiked with a couple who happen to be Snehal's neighbours. What a perfect end. I was loving Pune's small town energy. 

Next morning we went to Mocha for coffee where I met little Laddoo. After a breakfast hookah and Snehal's mom delicious Malwani food we headed back to NH7. An evening full of delightful music- Swarathma, Papon and the East India Company and finally Indian Ocean. When Kandisa rung through the grounds that was it- a collective energy swept took over the space. Something amazing happened after the end of the concert. The party did not end- they set up an All Stars stage with ALL the main artists who jammed with each other- Indian Ocean with Papon, Pentagram with Imogen Heap, Monica Dongra with Siddharth and Karsh Kale. It was quite brilliant. The backdrop was a massive canvas stretched on a giant wheel with gorgeous projections. 

Aah what a show. Magnificient sound engineering, vivid lights, the best volunteers, superb line up and very well organised. I have to say one of the best music festivals I have ever attended. I also felt very proud of how far along our young musicians have come going beyond fusion, delving into rock, electronica, sound making, exploring. 

The last part of the adventure. Mel and I shared a ride with another couple in a Volkswagon Passat all the way to Mumbai all for Rs400. Such was the adventure of this music festival. Such was the spirit of the weekend because as they say on the Dewarists... Somethings are just worth doing! 

Also thanks to Snehal's family for hosting us and preparing the best Malwani lunch ever. Separate post on that.

Enjoy the photos I took. And to more food, music & travel adventures. Thanks for staying on the ride with me.

 If you are into it as much as I am- do hear my recording of Kandisa by Indian Ocean.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In love with Crepes

I fell in love over crepes many lifetimes ago. I had a poulet au curry (chicken curry) served with a mango chutney and he had a bouef bourguignon followed by dessert crepe of nutella and bananas cooked in rum. It was at one of my favourite restaurants in Chicago called Le Creperie. It was really my first experience with this delightful dosa-like French everyday wholesome goodness. That was many years ago.

I did not think I would find a crepe place so good in Mumbai. My friend Ashraf raved about its hot chocolate and is almost at Suzette everyday (lucky bum lives practically next door). A site visit to Nariman Point led me to finally try the crepes at Suzette.  Its located right behind the NCPA. The tiny space was elegant, raw, minimal and earthy. The table mats were brown papers with a stylized line drawing of the Paris skyline (of course with the Eiffel Tower). Simple tall glasses and glass bottles to serve water added to the quaintness of this lovely little cafe. A bookshelf, a row with benches, a few tables with chairs and bar seating at the counter all gave the space the look of a typical Parisian cafe, warm and welcoming and a place you could spend hours at. A blackboard menu with all the daily specials handwritten. 

I chatted with the owners Antonia and Jereme about their restaurant. They told me about the hurdles of opening a French restaurant in Mumbai, learning Hindi to get their supplies from their vendors & most of all introducing the traditional Brittany crepes to Mumbaikars. Their menu though mostly crepes- sweet and savory, also has salads and an array of fresh fruit juices and smoothies (spelt as smoozies - as one would say in the French accent), teas, coffee and of course the hot chocolates. 
I ordered a salad of the day which was by far one of the best fresh salads I have ever had in Mumbai. Lettuce, beans, bacon and a balsamic vinaigrette which was in the perfect amount coating the salad making the lettuce leaves flavorful and not soggy (hate soggy salad).

Antonia recommended a lovely combination for the crepe- goat cheese, chicken, caramelized onions (OMG I love) and a drizzle of honey. Too sweet- nope it was just right. The saltiness of the chicken and goat cheese was the perfect balance with the onions and honey. The crepe itself was crispy and not stretchy like other crepes I have had. I really enjoyed its texture with the creamy goat cheese. 

And finally the hot chocolate- you would think thicker the better. Well take a sip and then think again. It was not thick, it was just right, flavorful from the depths of the dark chocolate ocean. One sip and I knew I will crave this every time I need a chocolate miracle.
On my second viist (oui I went back again), I met the third owner another French gentleman by the name of Pierre. He told me they use buckwheat flour which is traditional to the Brittany crepes. 
I could not quite get the recipe of the crepe batter out of him but I did find one here in case you are interested.
Crepe filling is like playing with flavours and textures- spinach, tomatoes and feta; goat cheese and apples; ham and egg; chicken and mushrooms in a white sauce. The possibilities are endless. Or check out Suzette's menu for more inspiration

Prep Time: 2 hours, 05 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes 

  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


Whisk all the ingredients vigorously until the crepe batter is completely smooth; allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours before making into crepes. Melt a little butter in a crepe pan or large skillet over low-medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan and swirl until the bottom of the pan is covered with batter. 

Cook the crepe for 1 minute, or until the crepe is slightly moist on top and golden underneath. Loosen the edges of the crepe, slide the spatula under it, and then gently flip it upside down into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and transfer the cooked crepe to a plate to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.


My friend Mona sent me this video from when she lived in Germany. This crepe maker is making a banana, nutella cream crepe. It looks absolutely delicious. Danke Mona.