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Travel Blog : Bombay / Mumbai Revisited


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#31 percyn

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 01:57 AM

Checking in from the Lounge @Frankfurt.

Still have to post about 2 elaborate meals (and more) - the wonderful Navjote meal, which is served on a banana leaf to approx 500 to 1500 guests. Here is a sample of what a typical Navjote meal looks like
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and a sneak preview
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The Thali we had was amazing as well. You can read up on Gujarati thali while I get around to uploading the pics and posting about it.

Sample Gujarati thali, similar to what we had.
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Edited by percyn, 01 January 2009 - 01:58 AM.


#32 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:18 PM

Day 11
Another day and another coconut later, we grabbed some lattes and a cashew muffin before heading to the Sea Side Café for an omelet and masala tea. They also had a good looking Chicken tikka roll which I decided to try today.

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After some relaxing by the pool in preparation for what we knew would be a long following day, we went to Linking road, a busy shopping area in Bandra, full of street vendors and shops. Unfortunately, the crowds caused more stress for my wife who said she could not shop in such an environment, … words I thought I would never hear !!

Pool view from our room
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Though the sun had set, it was still warm, so we decided to cool off with some handmade shakes – sitaful (a fruit like a chermoya) for me and chocolate for her.

Sitaful
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Sitaful Shake
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After a few failed attempts to shop, we grabbed only a handful of items and headed for dinner to Spice Tree, a restaurant we had passed on several occasions and was recommended to us as well.

We walked into an almost empty restaurant around 8pm, which gradually started to fill up and by the time we were done with dinner, it was full. Our dinner started with Jumbo prawns which they brought out on a platter to show us and tell us the price (pricing them individually instead of by weight seems to be the prevailing practice). There were 2 jumbo prawns left – one half the size of my forearm (almost the size of a small lobster) and the other a little smaller (unfortunately the picture did not turn out well). We bought both and asked them to grill them with some tandoori masala. I was expecting them to serve them head on, split down the center, allowing me to enjoy the goodness that can only be found in the head. Unfortunately, they were deshelled and only the tail portion was served. I should have made my intentions clear, but was a bit bummed since these were the last 2 jumbo shrimp they had left.
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There were a few things I wanted to try on the menu but did not want to waste the food since we did not have the means to reheat it in our hotel room. Around that time I thought of an idea….I could wrap up the leftovers and share them with those not as fortunate to be able to enjoy the creations of this restaurant. So we ordered a full tandoori chicken (you are probably sick of me ordering this, but it is one my wife likes and every restaurant has its own special way to making it, thereby creating different renditions), a variety of naan, some basmati rice, kachumbar (salsa like salad) and shrimp Goan curry along with a Kingfisher and a passable Indian Shiraz.

Tandoori Chicken
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Kheema Naan - Meat stuffed Naan
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Kachumber
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Goan Shrimp Curry
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For dinner, we got some Sitaful kulfi. Of course we did not finish everything, but I did not feel bad since the leftovers went to a great cause.
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Edited by percyn, 02 January 2009 - 07:01 PM.


#33 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:42 PM

Day 12
As you suspect, the morning began with a coconut, latte, cashew muffin and an omelet sandwich. Unfortunately, this time around, a few hours later I was not feeling too well. Either I one of the last meals did not sit well or the over-indulging finally caught up to me. Either way, I will spare you the details and only mention this so that you can understand and forgive me for taking it a bit easy for the next few days.

During the day of the Navjote reception, there are a lot of fresh flowers used to decorate the cars, tables, stage, etc.
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Unfortunately, the timing of the sickness could not have been worse, as it was the day of the navjote reception, who’s food I was looking forward to. Thus even though I only nibbled at it, I did want to share what these delights were:

Sarya – A white, crispy tapioca based fried cracker (similar to the shrimp crackers, but without the shrimp flavor), typically enjoyed with a sweet jaggery, mango and carrot pickle.
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Paneer – A fresh cheese, similar to a savory (slightly salty) mozzarella.
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Patra ni Machi – Pomfret tail, topped with coriander (cilantro) and mint chutney, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. While the tail is the most preferred part, the hard core traditionalist opt for the head.
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Masala Chicken
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Kid nu Gohst – Baby goat in a cashew based sauce
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Palau and Dar – Rice flavored with black and green cardamom, saffron, etc and cooked with goat and eggs.
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Served from huge platters
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Dessert was something a little different – instead of the typical Lagan nu Custard, we enjoyed Falooda Kulfi.
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When you are done eating, simply fold the banana leaf and they discard the whole thing...and its biodegradable.

#34 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:58 PM

Day 13
We were so tired we slept in, while still recovering from the illness. Not much to report on this day other than we took it easy and went to a place which served some Anglo-Indian favorites

Counter
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We tried the Chicken roll, Chicken Croissant, lamb burger, chutney sandwich and some grilled chicken. Unfortunately, none of the dishes were that great, except for the grilled chicken. We also enjoyed a great Lemongrass Cooler.

In the afternoon and early evening we relaxed by the pool and enjoyed a pizza and KingFisher for dinner
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#35 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:11 PM

Day 14
Since we were approaching the last few days of our tip, we decided to spend some time with my brother and his family. We went to their house for a late breakfast and then headed to South Bombay for some shopping.

Those who remember recent events might recognize Leopold’s Café, the Gateway of India and the Taj Palace hotel, which were the sites of unfortunate events by cowards on Nov 26, 2008.

Leopold's Cafe
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Gateway of India
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Taj Palace Hotel
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We did some shopping in the tourist mecca of Colaba and went to a relatively new place which served Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Burmese delicacies.

Double-decker bus which used to be a very common sight
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We started with some Vietnamese rolls, then some Pho, followed by Khowswe, an Indo-Burmese dish my mother used to make. It consists of thin noodles topped with a mild curry then topped with the diners selection of fried onions, green onions, boiled egg, dried shrimp, etc. Delicious !!

Vietnamese spring rolls
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Beef Pho
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Khowswe - Noodles topped with curry and a variety of toppings
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For dinner we had Papeta Per Eda (Eggs on spiced potatoes) and Sali Gosht (sweet sour and salty goat with potato sticks)
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#36 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:22 PM

Day 15
For breakfast we had some Indian tea and cracked open a coconut which I had grabbed to go. We also had some some Upma, which is like a polenta, but made with semolina flour, tumeric, onions, cilantro, mustard seeds, etc.
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I went for a straight edge razor shave, a back/neck massage and a haircut…all for around $5. When I returned, there was Shrimp Kebabs and Dhansak (a traditional Parsi dish eaten on Sundays right before taking an afternoon nap) waiting for us.

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A few hours later a cousin who I had not seen for ages came over and we shared some masala sautéed shrimp, chicken livers and butter chicken.

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Chicken Livers
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Butter Chicken
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#37 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:47 PM

Day 16
This was the last day of our trip and knowing that it would be a long day and night, we tried to sleep in a bit. When we woke, we had Indian foodina tea, malai (fresh cream) with sugar on brun pav (crusty bread). The fresh cream is made by gently steeping unpasteurized full fat milk (sometimes buffalo milk) and is naturally slightly sweet, so I went slow on the sugar. This is a delicacy that is not often enjoyed in the states.....I propose that we change that.
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For lunch we went to Rajbough, which is a place that specializes in Gujurati style Thali. A thali is a term for a steel vessel or plate, but in this context refers to the type of cuisine typically served in a thali in Gujurat. Along the way we stopped at this place that serves a special kind of Mithai or sweet which has a fluffy pastry stuffed with milk solids, which is made by gently boiling raw milk until most of the liquid evaporates.
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Here is another mithai called Rubber Halva due to its chewiness. Taste like you would expect, a sweet bubble gum which you can swallow and easily digest.
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On the way we passed families crammed on small motorbikes, whizzing in and out of traffic.
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We also happened to pass some Dubbawallahs who are people who deliver tiffins from their clients homes to office locations on bicycle, handcarts, etc with amazing accuracy and efficiency, despite many of them being illiterate. Their system has recently been studied by prestigious MBA programs and companies like Virgin and Richard Branson personally.

The Dubbawallahs
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Back to the Thalis….there are about a dozen small items ranging from daals, vegetables, chaat, rice, pickles and sweets that are served as part of the thali. The main vegetable today was Undhu, a sweet and salty mixture of potatoes, peas, baby eggplant and a vegetable called papdi.

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Thali with Khichdi (rice)
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Closeup of pickles
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We also enjoyed a smoked chass (salty buttermilk), which is made by mixing garlic, chilies, etc with a burning charcoal before adding it to the buttermilk. This lends a deep smoky flavor, but this method of smoking items is a little controversial since people claim it can also cause cancer.

Making the chaas
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The fished product
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On the way back, we saw effigies which are traditionally burt of figures representing an old person to symbolize the passing year, however this year, the figures seemed to have graffiti with the names of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on 11/26 or in some cases Pakistan (which India suspects is where the terrorists were from).
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After a few more hours of playing with my nephews, I was still full from the thali, so decided to take it a bit easy over dinner. My sister in law had bought some special items for me which went well with the fresh chapatis made daily

Daily Chapatis
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Can you guess what this is???
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Another rendition of the same ingredient
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This was Dec 31st, and since our flight was early morning on Jan 1st, we celebrated the new year at the Mumbai airport and then had an opportunity to do so several times again as we would be “traveling back in time” and cross the 12am time many times over.

Edited by percyn, 02 January 2009 - 07:03 PM.


#38 percyn

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:55 PM

Well, this concludes our trip and thus the blog. While there were many more places I still wanted my wife to see and experience, we simply did not have the time as we had to take it slow, being that this was her first trip. That means we will have to start planning for another trip and include a couple places outside of Bombay.

For my wife and I, this trip has created its own set of memories, which we will cherished. I hoped you enjoyed a short glimpse into some of them.

Cheers
Percy

#39 menuinprogress

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 08:27 PM

Great stuff, Percy - thanks for sharing!
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#40 Abra

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 03:05 AM

Thanks so much, it's been a pleasure following along!

#41 percyn

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:22 AM


...
I have some video footage of a short rickshaw ride in some traffic which I will post the link to if I can upload it to Youtube.

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I'd love to see the video.
...

Well, I had some challenges uploading to youtube, but got it on flickr...

Rickshaw ride # 1 - http://www.flickr.co...cyn/3163319422/

Rickshaw ride #2 - http://www.flickr.co...cyn/3163256680/

General traffic - http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/

Note - I tried to keep the camera as steady as possible. but all the shaking is from my body being tossed around like a rag doll, shaking up my internal organs.

#42 Shelby

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:25 AM

What a wonderful experience this has been! I'm sorry you were ill for a couple of days. That's no fun. How cool to be able to ring in the New Year over and over on the plane!

#43 Kim Shook

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:37 AM

Percyn – thank you so much. I am woefully ignorant of any type of Indian food and wish I had someone like you to go to restaurants with to help guide me. I was just reading an article in a local paper about how there is an explosion of Indian restaurants in Richmond, so now is the time. I enjoyed the videos, too. I hope that those bumpy rides didn’t occur when you were feeling low! I had to laugh at the American mayonnaise bus sign. Hope you are feeling better and will be rested soon from your trip!

#44 CaliPoutine

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:56 AM

Thank you so much for the blog. It was a very enjoyable read. Happy New Year!!

#45 I_call_the_duck

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 09:03 AM

Percy,

Thanks again for sharing your wonderful trip. I'm glad you and your wife had such a great time.

Now that you're back in the States, I'm sure your family misses you. But do you think the coconut guy misses you too? :raz:
Karen C.

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#46 percyn

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 10:20 AM

Percy,

Thanks again for sharing your wonderful trip.  I'm glad you and your wife had such a great time.

Now that you're back in the States, I'm sure your family misses you.  But do you think the coconut guy misses you too?  :raz:

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Given that I used to pay over "market prices" for the coconuts, I am sure he does :raz:

#47 percyn

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 10:27 AM

As I was unpacking, I thought I would share some goodies (spices) I brought over

Spices
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Fish Roe Pickle - Not likely to find this around here
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#48 docsconz

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 10:37 AM

Bravo, Percy! you gave a great perspective on a very important place at a very important time in India's history.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#49 judiu

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 01:08 PM

Percy, again, thank you so much for taking me to someplace I'd never elsewise be able to experience! How beautiful it is there, as you show it.
"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

#50 JTravel

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:00 PM

Fabulous!!!!! It was an example of the best eGullet can offer.......food of far away places.....from an insider's view point. There is nothing like finding out about the REAL thing. I know very little of Indian food, but now I have names to follow up on and I will try to find and/or make some of those dishes.

Thanks SO much.
J

#51 tsquare

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:42 PM

This was a fantastic blog - thank you for the vada info.

You brought home lots of those prepared mixes that I see at the store - how do you know which are good or are most worth buying? We just bought a few items this afternoon such as black chickpeas and menthi leaves, but none of those mixes. I guess I am lucky that Michael is in the kitchen grinding spices and pureeing onions for our fish curry tonight!

#52 percyn

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 06:38 AM

This was a fantastic blog - thank you for the vada info.

You brought home lots of those prepared mixes that I see at the store - how do you know which are good or are most worth buying? We just bought a few items this afternoon such as black chickpeas and menthi leaves, but none of those mixes. I guess I am lucky that Michael is in the kitchen grinding spices and pureeing onions for our fish curry tonight!

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Thanks for the kind words all, I am glad I could share this small experience.

Tsquare, most of what I brought back are (ground) spices from a place that specializes in them. There are only a few mixes, like the Falooda (a milk based drink with coriander seeds and arrowroot) which I cant seem to find easily in the states.

As for spices, different cooks prefer different brands and these are from Motilal's, a famous spice purveyor in Bombay. My grandmother would only cook with Motilal's spices and people still travel across town to its only location to buy their spices.

#53 rkolluri

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 08:51 AM

Thanks Percyn.

That certainly brought back memories and some feelings of envy. Having lived in Bombay as a kid and a teenager it is certainly great to hear from someone who appreciates the city and its food as much as I did (do). I still call it my city even though I have spent less than a quarter of my life there.

My father worked for a company with Parsi management and I can recall going to Parsi weddings and celebrations that did not look much different from the pictures you have.


If I had to do the same trip I think I would try to do most of the things you did with some additional South Indian places from Matunga and some street food (bhel puri, pav bhaji, etc.) thrown in. I have some good memories of some of those places and I will need to check them out again to see if they are really as good as I remember them to be. I guess one would need to be careful with street food now that we are older and have "weaker" stomachs.

Seeing the picture of the fish roe pickle also brought a smile to my face. I was a vegetarian when I was in India and so I am not familiar with that product. However, I did notice that it was from Navsari a town we lived in for three years in the early seventies. I have not seen that name in print in a long time.

Thanks again. I really appreciate the effort you put into this travel blog.

#54 percyn

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 09:23 AM

If I had to do the same trip I think I would try to do most of the things you did with some additional South Indian places from Matunga and some street food (bhel puri, pav bhaji, etc.) thrown in.  I have some good memories of some of those places and I will need to check them out again to see if they are really as good as I remember them to be.  I guess one would need to be careful with street food now that we are older and have "weaker" stomachs.

I agree with you and we were supposed to go to a Pav Bhaji place in Tardev and a dosa place in Matunga, but it was scheduled for the days we were not feeling too good. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in a Kachori a few days before, my sister in law made Dahi Puri for us and are lucky to have a decent dosa place not far from our house here, so I can get dosas anytime.

Kachori
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Dahi Puri
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Edited by percyn, 04 January 2009 - 09:24 AM.


#55 Flotch

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 05:12 AM

Hey Percyn,
Were you living in Bandra? Seems like you visited Seaside Cafe at Bandstand near the Taj Land's End for breakfast. Was that Tavaa in bandra you visited? I'm from the suburb so got a bit excited seeing it and Copper Chimney as well. Also, was the kebab palce you visited called Kareem's? It's located on Carter Road.

#56 faine

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:13 PM

Oh man, you're making me miss Mumbai! I've been to a few of those restaurants and am now extremely hungry for roomali roti, boti kebab and dahi puri....

I can verify that anglo-Indian cuisine can be very tasty in the right hands. Especially the Indian take on chili crab. Yum. And it's hard to resist chili chicken, as unhealthy as it may be!

Do you have the recipe for those stuffed crabs? They look divine.

Thank you so much for bringing back a ton of great memories. I'm hoping to make it back this summer and eat everything in sight.