Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Happy Diwali everyone! It is a pleasure to be able to spend Diwali with the family. We are off to Kolkatta for Diwali. My very first visit ever. So excited. If you have any food recommendations do write in.

I took Pepper Purwar for a walk this evening and he was frightened by all the noise the crackers were making. It would be a dream to have just a well lit Diwali minus all the sounds from the fire crackers. The birds disappear, all the animals are clearly upset, my dog sat crying hidden in a corner. What's the point. I don't see it. Inspired by this little idea I drew this little illustration. I hope you can spread the message. 

And once again a very peaceful and well lit Diwali to all of you & a Happy New Year. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Toppings: Jasuben nu Pizza

I'm not sure what my hang up was before, but in all my years growing up in Ahmedabad I did not eat Gujju Pizza. Maybe I was too much of a snob as a kid, turned my nose up to the idea or maybe I love Pav Bhaji too much. Plus- I grew up on Smokin' Joes when it was only available to us South Bombay kids- or the first Pizza Hut in which the staff got together and did the Macarena. Oya my pizza eating experience was very Americanized even before I made it to the great country. And then Chicago Deep Dish happened. Holy cow! Its amongst the top 5 things Chicago is well known for. Deep dish pizza which has a super buttery crust and filled with sauce and toppings. The heaviest meal ever. 

So when Chandni, my lovely host in Ahmedabad, asked me if I had Jasuben's Pizza she could not believe her ears. As usual I got the - 'What kind of food blogger are you?' look. (I seem to be getting that look a lot more often now). That's it dinner plans were laid. We drove up to the one location near her house on the highway. I insisted on picking up some pav bhaji (old habbits die slow).
We sat on some chairs on the sidewalk with a hundred others loudly chatting and chomping on little quartered pieces of cheesy saucy bites.  There was a little stall with a vertical oven, a sandwich press and a blender. Three boys whipping out a dozen pizzas by the minute, grilled sandwiches, cheese toasts, and cold coffee to go with it all. Serving a hundred people by the minute and this too on a Sunday Night. And they kept on coming.
Ok let me tell you- Jasuben's Pizza is a pilgrimage. Its a tourist destination. Any foolish notion I had of what a real pizza should be and granted pizza is Italian, it all flew out of my mind when I took my first bite. The crust is biscuity, crunchy, buttery almost like a bhakri. The bubbling hot tomato sauce is a close cousin of tomato ketchup just as sweet but quite spicey. The toppings are simple- no fancy pick your own toppings. No fancy mushrooms, corn, olives, jalapenos. Huh? What are you talking about? Stick to simple finely chopped onions and capsicum ok. Top it with loads ( and I mean large amounts) of grated local white cheese. The singular cheese we grew up- the Amul's white cheese. This is way before the cheese and wine revolution hit us. Simple and yummy are the keywords here.

The crust is baked in the vertical makeshift oven, red sauce spread, then back in the oven, then quickly topped with onions and capsicum and then topped with the grated cheese.  
Any Amdavadis reading this do holler and tell me why you love Jasuben's Pizza. I am a convert- Gujju pizza I love you. Whenever I think about this pizza meal I feel like I could have broken into a moves like Jagger, a rock n roll strut, a bit of knee twisting, pelvic thrusting, sliding in a moonwalk across the floor. Oya!

This is how I felt after my very first Jasuben Pizza:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The West View bar & Grill - On the Other side

Yup! Last night I stepped into the kitchen of the West View Bar & Grill at the ITC Grand Maratha. I was followed by an enthusiastic bunch of fellow food bloggers who took many fun photos of me along with the chefs in the kitchen grilling up some lamb and pork chops and some Indian Pomfret. I carried with me Papa's Magic Masala and sprinkled it generously on the various assortments of meats and fish and vegetables and one by one placed them on the grill to cook them to slightly charred perfection. It was fun. In the kitchen with chefs- in a white skirt and yellow heals and the funny chefs hat. Not the most practical thing to wear in a professional kitchen but none the less fun.

This was our almost bi- monthly Mumbai Food Bloggers meet. Now a very boisterous and raucous bunch of folks who diligently bring forth beautiful food stories, restaurant reviews, recipes, travel adventures. Each one has his or her take on the food but constantly pushing pixels, little superstars in their own rights with a global fan following. These meets are organized by food blogger and consultant Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal who calls herself the mother hen of the peck. Rushina writes the blog A Perfect Bite and now has column in the Hindustan Times called the Spice Route. This group by far is the most enthusiastic, well organized, most interested in all things food that I have been a part of.

So what was the West View Bar & Grill like? Well as a concept you pick your raw vegetables and meats and fish on a plate and hand it over to the kitchen and they will prepare it for you either in a lemon butter sauce or a red wine reduction on the flame. Chef  Padmaja experiments with spices and sauces and innovates each night. She was one of the most delightful, cheerful chefs I have ever met. Enthusiastically letting me into her kitchen with my own spice mix- Papa's Magic masala, and then setting up a hot stone grill showdown for the rest of the bloggers.

It was a fun and spirited evening. Here is to many more such wonderful evenings with my Merry Band of Mumbai Food Blogger friends. Cheers!

Vegetarians beware- raw meat pictures follow:

Big Thanks to Rushina and the folks at ITC for the lovely evening.

The Mumbai Food Bloggers at the West View Bar & Grill

West view bar & grill, a set on Flickr

Check out the bloggers and their awesome blogs
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal - A Perfect Bite
Nikhil Merchant- Nonchalant Gourmand
Harini Prakash- Tongueticklers
Snigdha Manchanda Binjola- Life on Simmer
Poonam Joshi- Homemade Happiness
Megha Goyal- Live to Eat
Rithika Ramesh- The Green Stove
Pranav Kochalia- Foodie Geek
Vinda Dravid- Lett'uce eat
Sunayan Shahani - Luv 4 all things yum
Arina Suchde- Vegetarina
Vishwas Kasat
Kurush Dalal- Eats Feeds and Digs
Rhea Mitra Dalal- Euphorhea
Sanskaran Banerjee- Lotsa Food
Jyotika Purwar- Follow My Recipe

My dad made his famous Layya Channa for everyone. He laboured over it for 3 hours and made two large boxes which I packed in little bags and tied with ribbons and gave to everyone. The heeng is from Afghanistan and all masalas dad hand picks and sorts out. Do write back and tell me if you enjoyed it.