12 March 2009

going vegetarian

we've been working hard to come up with two great vegetarian moolis. this constituency is big. and very important for us

....it's 3:45pm at calcutta club, a small bengali restaurant in the deepest innards of mumbai. arati* and I sit at the only table still occupied by customers, while the bengali cooks are tucking into their fish curry and a mound of rice. we have permission to open up and sample our treasures gathered from various eateries of this sprawling city….having travelled from worli (on-a-roll - lucknowi) to colaba (martins - goan**) to ballard pier (britannia - parsee***) and now to oshiwara.

i have a taste of the goan pork. nice, but i've had better at home. a spoonful of the parsee dhansak. tasty. very tasty and merits a second bite. hmmm... this will be great as a dhal soup. the berry pulao is exotic. berries sourced all the way from iran. but no, I keep this aside for another time. no space for rice now. the kakori kabab from on-a-roll is awful - texture like a sausage but no flavour****. sam assures me that this is a poor replica. and he knows as he has had the original from the kitchens of the nawab of lucknow.

and then I taste the baingan (aubergine) bhajja. i just cant stop eating. the flavour is smoky, having just been taken off the grill. the insides are juicy and succulent, almost meaty. it is gorgeous with a mustard/chilli sauce. better still with the tomato, date and tamarind chutney.

"ararti, please can I finish this? I'd rather have this than finish the pork!!!" what an inspiring dish. if all vegetarian food can taste like this, i could be vegetarian.

sam's grandmother first suggested this many months ago. the aubergine mooli. smoky grilled aubergine with a tomato and tamarind chutney.

ps: i do acknowledge that my hyperlinking skills are pretty bad. but i'm working on it.

* our food consultant of tarla dalal fame (http://www.tarladalal.com/) and former chef at the taj hotels (http://www.tajhotels.com/)

** http://mumbai.burrp.com/establishment/review/10m_3ic

*** http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/leisure/BoRe/britannia.html

**** http://www.shantanughosh.com/2007/04/of-nawabs-and-kababs.html


SM said...

It fills my heart with joy to know that there are still people out there thinking about vegetarians ;) And paneer is not vegetarian - just looking at it gives me the heebie-jeebies. In vegetarian the spices become all the more important because they need to coax the flavour out of the vegetable. Also I find that the character of vegetables changes rapidly if not consumed fairly soon. But you guys have this covered I'm sure.

VxD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VxD said...

this is called playing to the galleries ...or as some may eagerly want to point ...few of the galleries!

headline was pleasantly shocking ...since when the beef munching. mutton spouting and chicken dreaming folks have started drooling over more nuanced flavors of veggie stuff??

Yes ...u r playing to some of the galleries ...but we are liking it :)

mathew said...

unfair. i really loved the aubergine. i honestly think this will be my favourite.

for the longest time, i was a hard core non-vegetarian. good syrian christian that i am, we often had chicken, fish and beef for breakfast! vegetables were always an after thought...and they tasted like they were an after thought. even potatoes in our chicken stew was frowned upon.

but then i discovered vegetarian food, prepared in vegetarian homes so the vegetables were now the showpiece. and i was converted.

had a great halloumi burger today in the whitecross street market. it was really yum, the halloumi (greek cheese, paneer like) was grated together with lots of fresh vegetables. very nice.

we should consider running a Mooli's stall in this market for a month pre-launch. some really good stuff here - thai, indian, mexican, italian - in fact lots of stalls are common with borough market.

Anonymous said...

Chicken is a vegetable

tbaloch said...

Enjoyed the entry, and if Indian cuisine is def best if you are a committed veggie. I also wonder-in line with your holistic approach, one which is not scared but embraces our, dare I say it, oriental friends-tofu should be experimented with since it absorbs flavours wonderfully.

Ps While some of my best friends are veggies, I do find them to be bad in bed, although their perspiration smell nice.

sameer said...

we are definitely going to do a paneer/tofu - tariq, our food consultant like you thinks tofu is great. maybe we can pull of saag paneer in a roll. if we use corn tortillas its going to be WOW.

can't wait to taste this beingan!

we are doing one tomorrow in the oven which should be exciting. also a tomato tamarind chutney should go really well with it.

sameer said...

ps LOL at anon's chicken comment - i have said this many times BUT the chicken tikka ain't no vegetable. :D