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. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

70 Days After Ramzan.

Its Eid- Al- Adha today popularly known as Bakri Eid. It is the festival of sacrifice to commemorate the day Ibrahim was willingly ready to sacrifice his son Ishmael to show obedience to God. However, God intervened and provided Ibrahim with a sheep to sacrifice instead the life of his son. 
This is still practiced in which a goat bakri is slaughtered and the meat is used to prepare a feast for the family and community. Biryani, kababs, goat curry are the popular dishes.

There was a thread of discussion on biryani cravings on the Mumbai Food Bloggers Page. Papa just told me that Shaffi uncle's wife is sending us some homemade Lucknow style biryani and kababs. I'm really excited. Its my birthday tomorrow so this is going to be a treat to eat homemade super sexy biryani from Lucknow. 

However, I remembered that I had taken some lovely pictures of Ramzan a few months back. I had taken my friend Mark to Mohammed Ali Road at the Minara Masjid area for to check out food scene. I had seen this post on Mumbai Paused and could not stop drooling. 

It was the monsoon and it was raining that night. We walked down the street during prayer time, it was a solemn affair. Right after the prayers, the place was alive. Stalls selling- chicken soups, kababs, tikkas, botis, niharis, fried chicken, breads, and of course biryani. Stall after stall, some sit down restaurants. Turn in a different direction and there are dessert stalls frying up malpua, jalebis, serving cold firni, badam flavored milk, pancakes, ladoos with fried puris. It was alive, energetic and most of people despite fasting without food and water all day were very friendly, explaining the food and tradition, open to discussions, and most of all everyone had a smile on their face. A nation of smiles. And why shouldn't they be, after a long hard day of fasting, this food would be the ultimate satisfaction.

Back to the best biryani debate- I ate some really fantastic biryani here that night. The best chicken biryani ever.

So without wasting more time & before I forget - I want to share with you the pictures I took during Ramzan almost 70 days ago. Looking forward to my biryani tomorrow. Yum!

Smiling away despite all the smoke. Some really succulent chicken kababs.
To die for Nihari- the restaurant owner told us that he sources his marrow for the Nihari for Rs 400 a kgs. The nihari is cooked for hours.

Also have you seen The Dewarists yet. The second episode with Zeb & Haniya and Shantanu and Swanand in Mumbai - they go to Minara Masjid for a meal in the rain and eat some really amazing kababs as well. We could have crossed paths that night. They came up with the most amazing song in collaboration as a group. I love this song and the lyrics are beautiful.