It is that time of the year when we have wrapped up 2015 in a neat little bundle and said welcome to a joyous, healthy and peaceful year up ahead (fingers crossed). It is also that time of the year when I would like to bring forth some of the best foods that I have eaten in the last one year, whether locally or abroad. So here goes…
Please note that they are not in any foodological order; I liked them, loved them, devoured them and hence they are here.
Masala Library, Mumbai
Writing a small note for a stupendous treat at Masala Library, a chic restaurant in Mumbai, India would certainly be shameless on my part because this nine-course degustation was probably one of the finest meals I have ever had. The fusion of desi and international flavours with marvelous plating and bite sized food items was a flirtatious affair. You just wanted more and more of each item, knowing you can’t have more. With a heavy heart, if I have to pick one out of the nine courses I sampled, it would be one of the desserts. A chilled Ras Malai swimming in saffron sweetened milk and sandwiched together with apple cream. HEAVEN.
What happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. However, one thing that I must bring back is the brilliant Japanese food that a small quaint beach town like Koh Samui does. For the four days that my friend and I were there, two of our meals happened to be in a sushi restaurant that served some deliciously prepared food. Surprisingly the helpings were large, neatly put together and downright scrumptious. Lightly battered crabs and what seemed like a cross between Sriracha and Thousand Island dressing housed on some fresh salad was definitely a boundary worth crossing. STUPENDOUS.
Royal China, London
Yes, I consider chili as food. Since it is a staple with my daal chawal, stir-fries and soups, hence I consider it an integral part of my food intake. Irrespective of how it burns the entire food canal but those bud numbing fiery sparks are so worth it. Chili oil, where chunks of chili, mixed with vinegar and sugar are floating in oil is housed best in Royal China, London. FIRE.
Carrot Walnut Muffin
I am a huge fan of carrot cake, the kind that is spongy, moist, evenly spiced and sandwiched together with pillowy cream cheese frosting. I am not a huge fan of coffee at Starbucks, yet their Carrot Walnut Muffin has enough seduction powers to entice me back in. Although bereft from frosting (which is a huge calorie saving) the moist muffin, balanced with nuts and cinnamon spice is a romance that has taken its solid footings with me. SCENTED.
One of the most heavy, peaceful lunches that I had was at Fujiyama, a colorful array of delectable in a tray. However, the deal is only for lunchtime and I hit the restaurant well before the corporates swarmed the place. Easily fit for two this meal gives you all your favorites in one tray ranging from pickles, garlic rice, teriyaki and tempuras. A treat that you can give yourself on one of those crazy days when you want food, silence and only yourself. ME TIME.
Masala Library, Mumbai
Going back to Masala Library, I have to mention these absolutely tantalizing stuffed kulchas. These were tiny, bite-sized parathas stuffed with chicken and black pepper prawns. Although small, they can be easily crowned as ‘Divinity’ amongst the paratha fraternity. DIVINE.
Kailash Parbat, Mumbai
I had roadside pani puri in Juhu Chowpatty, Mumbai and instantly received a whatsapp message from an Indian friend to get myself injected with typhoid vaccination. And that made me instantly want more and more of it hence headed out to a more sophisticated and cleaner Kailash Parbat, a Chaat Joint that is all over Mumbai and in other parts of the world too. Luckily I found my ideal combination of crispy papri, sweetened yogurt and their sweet chutney, which is made from dates and guur (jaggery). Although the basic ingredients are the same for these chaats, but the chutneys that these bombaywaalas put is what makes it so special. OUTSTANDING.
I am highly OCD about coffee! And whilst I generally hate to interfere and make new friends I have to customize my coffee and make the baristas my best friends, wherever I go. Xander’s in Karachi, however, has nailed my hot concoction of Skinny Mocha (drum roll). My friends might be rolling their eyes while I give out the coffee instructions to the barista but oh, it is so worth every time the extra layer of froth looks at me with a smile. HOT.
Churchill Arms, London
I can have Thai food anytime, anywhere! And if it is found in a popular Thai pub in London, then there is instant love. A time when Mr. A and I were cubless, we often used to visit Churchill Arms, a popular Thai pub in Central London. It is only now after years that I revisited it and ordered my favourite number 16. Flat rice pasta doused in extreme chili served vegetables and meat of your choice. The staff there has a natural affinity (NOT) towards us but that certainly does not deter me from visiting the place and drowning myself in the blazing dish. INTENSE.
‘Desi Chinese’ is a term that has obviously been concocted by the desis and if you are really in the mood to have this in K-Town then TAO certainly fits the bill. Crippy (crispy) Beef (as their Thai chef pronounces it) is one of their most popular dishes. Beef slivers are beefed up with batter, deep fried and immediately thrown into house made spicy (no surprises there) sauce. Eaten on its own or with rice, this beef dish is certainly making someone proud in the vast land of China! PRIDE.