Friday, November 19, 2010

EGGS, VODKA and a KISS - Food for Thought and Food for the Belly

There is a thing called PERCEPTION.
Do you know what perception means?

If you ever ask me, I will do two things.
I will tell you a story. And then I will feed you a delicious snack.

EGGS, VODKA and a KISS - Food for Thought and Food for the Belly

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The UMAMI experience

Eating Out at Polka Dots

From my Foodie Archives: 
Mouthwatering Memories of a Memorable Meal we savoured more than two years ago at a café in Aundh Pune called Polka Dots…. I hope the cute little eatery is still going strong and is as good as it was then…
Hi, dear fellow Foodie. Have you noticed that as you roll your food on your tongue its taste changes and flavour varies as the food interacts with different regions of your tongue?

The Tongue Map – have you ever heard of it…?

Yes…? That’s good…so you know all about the Tongue Map – taste buds on some parts of the tongue respond to certain flavours, while taste buds on other parts are sensitive to other flavours. The taste buds for "sweet" are on the tip of the tongue; the "salt" taste buds are on either side of the front of the tongue; "sour" taste buds are behind this; and "bitter" taste buds are way in the back.

You don’t believe me; you think I’m pulling a fast one, do you…?

Then try this – take something real yummy, delicious, which is a symbiosis, a medley of various scrumptious tastes, like Chicken Teriyaki, and place it on your tongue.

Once you feel the food on your tongue, close your eyes.

Yes, you must close your eyes to heighten your awareness, your mindfulness.

Now focus inwards to accentuate your gustatory, kinaesthetic and olfactory sensations and gently press the rich juicy scrumptious chicken teriyaki with your palate on the tip of your tongue and notice how its sweetness enhances, then slowly roll the soft tender succulent chicken teriyaki on the backwards and relish the tangy sweetish-sourness, the inimitable sweet and sour flavour – further back – a tinge of delicious subtle bitter flavour – and as you move the delectable melange forward on the sides of your tongue, soak up the tingling vitalizing scrummy saltiness.

Eat on, and soon you’ll experience that intense lip-smacking luscious flavoursome savouriness of Umami – the “fifth” flavour…!

Wondering where you’ll get that delicious Chicken Teriyaki in Pune…?

Try Polka Dots.

It is a cute little eating place in Aundh.

Just drive on DP Road past Parihar Chowk and soon you’ll find Polka Dots to your left.

Polka Dots is a covered outdoor café with airy seating on the sides of a house, the cooking area towards the rear. If you have a choice, select a table towards the entrance, away from the kitchen. (I do like to see my food being cooked in front of me, but to be overwhelmed by meaty odours and stifling hot oily vapours is another thing altogether…!)

The cosmopolitan crowd is a delightful assortment of young IT nerds, joyful families, eager students, lovey-dovey couples, lonesome singles, relaxed senior citizens, the high-falutin, the restless achievers, panoply of people – but foodies one and all…!

There is no wine, no beer, no spirits – that’s good – Polka Dots is a clean well lighted place with quick turnover and the focus is on eating, not drinking.

The menu is confusing – it features vignettes of all types of cuisine, a potpourri of dishes from around the world, so one can’t really classify the genre of this eating place.

So let’s call it a “multicuisine” café.

The Shepherd’s Pie is the pièce de résistance of this café – a wholesome, nourishing and delicious baked delight of melt-in-the-mouth mutton mince, mashed potato, vegetables topped with melted cheese. A visit to Polka Dots is incomplete without their signature Shepherd’s Pie.

My daughter loves the fish and chips here – crisp British style fried pomfret with piping hot potato chips and tartar sauce. The Chicken Corden Blue served at Polka Dots is truly excellent too – succulent breast of chicken in a bed of mint flavoured mashed potatoes drenched in delicious sauce is exquisite.

My son’s favourite is the scrumptious Chicken Roast which is of the same standard as the inimitable Roast Chicken I used to relish at the Sassanian Boulangerie near Metro in Mumbai.

My darling wife, a pure vegetarian, looks through the menu confused, in a quandary, wondering what to order. The waiter suggests vegetarian corn and jalapeno and though my wife diplomatically says it’s okay the expression on her face speaks otherwise.

If you are a vegetarian, Polka Dots doesn’t have anything special to offer.

Skip the Indian Cuisine too – the curries, the gravies and the biryanis – they are barely passable and probably put on the menu for those who aren’t sure what they want to eat and don’t want to experiment. 

We decide to indulge ourselves – my daughter suggests a Chicken Teriyaki.

I order it and wonder what it will taste like. The Chicken Teriyaki is superb – its exciting umami taste zestfully titillates my taste buds – a truly delicious experience.

You know what Umami is, isn’t it…? It is the fifth taste - Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Umami – just savour a Teriyaki and you’ll know what umami is…!

Polka Dots has a very tempting array of desserts which you can feast your eyes on in the cool-case at the entrance – may favourites are the walnut fudge ice cream, blueberry pie and tiramisu – a luscious end to a delicious meal.

You’ll find a board listing the day’s specials and it’s worth trying them out. In fact, most of the non-vegetarian Continental, Italian, Mexican and South East Asian dishes are worth trying – not a very exciting place for vegetarians and Indian Cuisine though.

If you love a potpourri of cuisine from around the world and want to have an unhurried relaxed meal with your family, friends or loved ones in cosy ambience try Polka Dots. You may find it a bit expensive, but it’s okay once in a while. It’s best to go in the evenings, as the place may be stifling hot in the afternoons. You may have to wait a bit, and parking may be a problem, but the delectable food will make up for it all.

So Dear Reader and Fellow Foodie – if you happen to be in Pune and somewhere near Aundh and are in a mood for some good food; why don’t you visit the place and tell us if you liked it…

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.  

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog -
Academic Journal Vikram Karve –
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve - 
Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll  

Friday, June 25, 2010



From my Foodie Archives
Mouthwatering Memories of a foodie adventure I enjoyed three years ago in Mumbai
You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants.

Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names.

But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there?

You haven’t...?

Doesn’t matter.

Come with me on a Foodie Trail.

I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.
To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination.

Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.
At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai.

You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!
Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting).

You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant and then “eat” your “plan”.
It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.
Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!
The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.
You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food.

The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite!

Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you'll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.
Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.
But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close your eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.
At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal.

And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing.

It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.
Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. I went there long back, more than three years ago, and I wonder if it is still the same. If you happen to be a Foodie in Mumbai, why don’t you try it out and tell us… Let us know how you enjoyed the eating experience and revive our mouth-watering memories…!
Happy Eating…!  

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 An excerpt from my book APPETITE FOR A STROLL comprising my Foodie Adventures

Saturday, June 19, 2010

FOOD - First Plan Your Eat then Eat Your Plan

FOOD - First Plan Your Eat then Eat Your Plan

eating out in Pune - maharashtrian thali at Shreyas Siddhi

A Delicious Maharashtrian Thali in Pune



On the 30th of May, a Sunday, we celebrated our 28th Wedding Anniversary, and celebrated it with a sumptuous family meal, as always, for the past few years, with a hearty delicious pure vegetarian Maharashtrian Thali at Shreyas Siddhi, the airconditioned swanky branch of the original Shreyas on Apte Road near Deccan Gymkhana in Pune.

If you are a true-blue Punekar, I am sure you know all about Shreyas and have savoured the delicious dining experience I am about to describe.

Nowadays, I prefer their branch called Shreyas Siddhi near Swar Gate on Satara Road not only due to its proximity to my home but mainly because of the excellent ambience which facilitates relaxed fulfilling family dining in cool comfort.  

One of my notable marital achievements is that I have managed to transform my darling wife into an avid [or should I say voracious] foodie. Now this is quite a remarkable feat considering that she hardly ever ate anything or never even noticed what she was eating when we first met…in fact earlier she used to eat to survive, now saying that she lives to eat maybe in extremis” but she certainly has developed a penchant for good food and relishes a tasty hearty meal.
Outside the restaurant, in the covered patio, hungry patrons wait patiently for their turn. Maybe they want to make you wait for your food and help build up an appetite and they believe in the adage that if you truly want to enjoy good food you must build up an appetite for it.

The moment you enter the cool confines of Shreyas Siddhi you are greeted by the glorious spectacle of devoted foodies enjoying their food with rapt attention and divine expressions of satiation.

You are guided to a table and you sit down. There is already a sparkling clean
taat with vatis in front of you. There is no menu card and no need for you to waste your time and effort wondering what to order. The waiters will immediately start serving and filling up your plate. You go to Shreyas to eat their delectable and matchless thali, and if you so desire, you can have a sweet dish like Gulab Jam, Modak, Fruit Salad, Basundi, Aamras or Amrakhand to accompany.
The fare varies, and on our latest visit for lunch this Sunday, there was the inimitable ambrosial Aloo Chi Bhaji, excellent Matki Usal, Soothing Soul Kadhi, delicious Umti, zesty Batata Bhaji, Soft melt-in-the-mouth Surali Chya Wadya, Soft Chappaties, Puris, Veg Pulao, Rice with Waran and a liberal topping of pure ghee, Rich Masale Bhat, and the usual Koshimbir, Chutney, Papad, with cool refreshing taak (buttermilk) to wash down the meal.

My darling wife relished her mandatory steamed
ukdi cha modak with pure ghee and my son polished off a lip smacking basundi
- I tasted both - simply superb!

You can eat to your heart's content –
as they say – as all the dishes, everything, is unlimited. And as a grand finale to the fulfilling meal they serve a very refreshing Vida (paan) to enhance the intoxicating sensation you will feel after relishing this magnificent meal.

Did I say “intoxication”?

Yes… intoxication…not the alcoholic kind, but non-alcoholic intoxication at its best. If you truly want to savor this delicious pure vegetarian cuisine, you must build up an appetite for it, and don’t make the mistake of ruining your experience by having a pre-meal appertif before you start off for the place. I think that’s true for all gourmet food, isn't it…?
I will not try and describe the delicious dishes. I cannot. Words fail me to recreate the pristine impeccable flavors, aromas, textures and tastes. It’s unmatched delectable top-quality authentic Puneri Maharashtrian cuisine at its best. It’s an “unlimited” meal and you can feast and satiate yourself to your heart’s content.
If you are in Pune, or the next time you visit Pune, have a delicious unforgettable meal at Shreyas. It is truly value for money authentic cuisine, a hundred and forty rupees for a thali (they give a discount for senior citizens too). Do have a meal at Shreyas. You will carry with you mouthwatering memories of the delightful feast for a long long time.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work 

If you are interested in Good Food and believe in the adage: There is no greater love than the love of eating then I am sure you will like my foodie adventures book  Appetite for a Stroll

Thursday, June 03, 2010

TEA Pune Style



Pune is a Tea Town.

Yes, when I was a small boy, Pune [or Poona as it was known then] was a “TEA TOWN”.

During those days, in Pune, everyone drank tea, except some quirky upaas type aunts who always insisted on sweet milky jaiphal spiced coffee and were “fasting” most of the time on yummy delicacies like Sabudana Khichadi and Wade, Rajgire, waryache tandul, healthy fruits, nourishing milk, calorie-rich pure ghee sweets and similar lip-smacking upasasache padartha.

By the way DALDA, quite popular in those days, made from hydrogenated oils was quite mysteriously “permitted” for upaas as it was considered to be “ghee”.

At home, tea was made in typical Puneri manner as described in my previous blog post recipe  A Cup of Delicious Tea

Outside your home, there were chiefly two types of tea for the laidback discerning gourmet Punekar to relish – AMRUT TULYA CHAHA at the ubiquitous Amruttulya Tea Shops at every nook and corner of Pune, and the peerless IRANI CHAI served by the numerous Irani Restaurants all over Pune city and camp like Café Naaz, Lucky, Good Luck, Volga etc. Indeed Amrut tulya Chaha and Irani Chai are an important aspect of the culinary heritage of Pune.

Irani Chai is the most rejuvenating beverage I have ever had. They keep the steaming rich tea brew and hot milk in separate containers and mix it in just the right proportion to get the terrific inimitable gulabi Irani Chai.

Drench in a fresh soft bun-maska, place it on your tongue, and close your eyes – aren’t you in seventh heaven? Even a cup of piping hot Irani Tea by itself is sheer bliss. 
Of my favourite Irani Restaurants, Naaz, Lucky and many others have disappeared, and only Good Luck remains.

Amrut Tulya Chaha tea shops too are fast vanishing too like the one nearest to where I lived on Tilak Road in Sadashiv Peth in the 1960’s next to Ashok Bakery which also disappeared a few years ago. Further down the road past SP College towards Maharashtra Mandal there still exist the legendary Ambika and New Ambika Amruttulyas -- a friend of mine used to say that the morning tea was superb in one and the evening tea in the other.

It’s really sad. The culture of Pune is fast changing. The youngsters don’t drink tea anymore – it’s infra dig, isn’t it?

The young and the restless prefer Coffee. No, not the peaberry-plantation filter coffee served by the Udipi Restaurants which we used to love, but the expensive stylish international coffees served at posh Baristas, CCDs, and high-falutin coffee shops proliferating rapidly all over Pune.

Just imagine, the other day I couldn’t get a cup of decent tea in a multiplex, but there were plenty of varieties of coffee all around.

Hey, it seems I am rambling away and have gone off on a tangent, so let me not digress from our main topic – The Art of making Amrut Tulya Tea.

Amrut means Nectar, and Tulya means Comparable, so “Amrut Tulya” means “Comparable to Nectar” and indeed, true to its name, Amrut-Tulya Tea is comparable to nectar –  sweet, ambrosial, like the elixir of life!

I loved watching Amrut Tulya Chaha being prepared. Amrut Tulya Tea is not brewed in the traditional Tea service style. The Tea is “cooked” in front of you in a brass vessel and as the vessel ages it becomes “tastier” and tastier with time.

I love the “special” chaha.

Milk and water are boiled together, with plenty of sugar, masala [comprising crushed cardamom, ginger], and tea leaves, stirring continuously to make sure it doesn’t overflow.

Come, my dear Tea Lover, let me tell you how to make Amrut Tulya Chaha - The Art of making Tea – Pune Style. 

Assemble the following Ingredients for Two Cups of Amrut Tulya Tea “Special Chaha”.

If you live in Pune, get the famous CTC+OP “Family Mixture” Tea Powder from your favourite “Tea Depot” in the heart of Pune City. Or you may use some good Assam CTC Tea.

By the way, the acronyms are: CTC – Crush, Tear, Curl; OP – Orange Pekoe; BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe.

Full Cream Buffalo Milk [I like Chitale or Sane dairy]

Fresh Water


Fresh Ginger Crushed [Better still you can crush the juicy fresh ginger with the chimta directly in the water-milk concoction to let the ginger juices flow out and blend in smoothly]

Cardamom – peel, crush and powder the pods

Before you start, dear reader, here is a note of caution: Please remember that Amrut Tulya Tea is not your traditional Masala Chai so please don’t add any Tea Masalas or spices like clove, cinnamon, black peppercorns or herbs like gavati chaha (lemon grass), tulsi leaves etc. and neither is it the “khada chamach” or “cutting” Chai so please don’t boil away to glory – remember, you must achieve Amrut Tulya Chaha of just the right consistency...!  

Now let us start “cooking” amrut tulya tea – we will make two cups, one for you and one for me.

In a brass vessel [or stainless steel, if you can’t get a brass vessel] mix one cup of water and one cup of milk.

Add four teaspoons of sugar.

Put on the stove on medium heat.

Squeeze in a bit of fresh crushed ginger and add a pinch of cardamom powder and the freshly crushed peel.

Lightly and lovingly stir the concoction, let it warm, and bring to a boil.

Smartly add two teaspoons of tea powder and keep stirring gently to ensure the boiling concoction does not spill over.

Keep boiling till the tea attains beautiful bright golden-orange colour – the moment you see a reddish tinge, give the heavenly brew a loving last stir, twirl the vessel, and sieve the Amrut Tulya Nectar Tea, your Special Chaha, directly into the cups.

You can drink it from the cup, or better still the saucer sucking and pulling in the yummy liquid with your lips and let it deliciously emulsify on your tongue for that heavenly elevating feeling.

Sip the delicious tea slowly and mindfully, roll it on your tongue, let it mingle in your palate, close your eyes, absorb, discern the flavour, the rich taste, relish every sip lovingly.

Amrut Tulya Chaha is truly lip-smacking tasty and soul-refreshing – blissful ambrosia, an experience of nectar – you can take my word for it.

Now you know why they call this refreshingly delicious and nourishing tea Amrut Tulya “comparable to Nectar” Chaha.

Cheers...!!! Enjoy your cup of special Amrut Tulya Nectar Tea.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

How to make a Delicious Cup of Tea




I love tea.

You too love a cup of invigorating tea, don't you...?

But tell me... do you know how to make a good cup of delicious tea...?

Okay, let me tell you is my time-tested simple way of preparing the best cup of invigorating tea.

Get some good Assam CTC Tea [CTC is an acronym for Crush, Tear and Curl].

CTC teas have a granular appearance and the fact of the matter is that if you are really interested in a Stimulating, Refreshing and Invigorating cup of traditional Indian Tea, Orthodox Leaf Teas [the OPs, the BOPs, et al] just don’t fit the bill – you need CTC tea to brew your strong, bright and full-bodied cup of milky Chai which looks deliciously appetizing – a lively reddish orange colour, not the dull muddy brown colour you get when you add milk to tea made from leaf teas the orthodox “teapot” way.

Take two cups of fresh water [one for you and one for me...!] in a stainless steel vessel.

Add four teaspoons of sugar [yes, sugar must be added before boiling the water].

Put on the stove, cover with a lid and boil.

Once the water starts boiling, remove the lid and boil for one and a half minutes – yes, exactly one and a half minutes...!

Now briskly add two teaspoons of CTC Tea leaves – the boiling water will suddenly erupt, and surge up, like a volcano, so smartly switch off the flame before it spills over and quickly cover tightly with the lid.

Brew for five minutes till the liquor is full-bodied and the infusion is complete.

Have ready some freshly boiled full cream buffalo milk – yes, fresh creamy buffalo milk is a must – in Pune, I prefer Chitale’s.

First pour in some hot milk in the cup, and through a strainer, pour in the rich tea brew and till you get beautiful reddish orange colour.

Remember – always pour tea into milk, never pour milk into tea.

This is the secret of the appetizingly attractive bright lively carroty red colour as it facilitates the perfect blending of the strong rich full-bodied intense tea liquor tea brew with the creamy white milk without producing any bitterness.

Now, go ahead, relish every sip, and enjoy your cup of ambrosial divine rejuvenating tea.

And don't forget to tell us how you liked your delicious cup of tea. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.