I have discovered a new love for traveling or if i put it right, traveling for food. There’s no bigger way to explore a city or country than learning about its culture and food forms a huge part of it. While I have still to embark on my first International trip (yep, I am heading to Japan in September), I’ve already traveled to Ahmedabad, Himachal (read about my McLeodganj trip) and there’s still a lot of 2016 left.
When I am not traveling I make sure I try as many various cuisines in Mumbai as possible, this is a way I get to mentally travel to those cities/countries through the flavours. Two days ago, I took a quick trip to Istanbul via the Ottoman Cafe pop-up happening at Cafe Prato at Four Seasons Worli. Chef Yener Altunay and his team from Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul has put together a menu of mezze platter, eight hours slow cooked lamb shank, handmade manti – Turkish ravioli, yogurt kebabs and of course the traditional dessert baklava and kunefe – layeres of crunchy kadayyf filled with unsalted cheese.
The chefs have brought a few ingredients straight from Istanbul to keep the flavours intact. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of what I ate.
The Mezze Platter was extensive with creamy hummus, subtly smokey babaghanoush – roasted eggplant dip, robust and flavourful muammara – roasted pepper and walnut spread, labneh and beautifully creamy white cheese made with goat milk and sheep milk. The cheese with a bite of apricot was divine, chase it with a sip of Sauvignon Blanc and you’ll get a complete rounded flavour.
The crisp wheat Dough Balls had a stuffing of lamb mince with a lovely tomato and walnut sauce. It was a lot like keema samosas but lighter and with subtler flavours.
The Handmade Manti, also known as Turkish Ravioli, were tiny pasta stuffed with lamb and tossed in a tangy and sweet tomato sauce which I wiped clean. The pasta had that handmade ruggedness and dense flavour.
The Yogurt Kebabs had lamb kebabs tossed with succulent pieces of chicken and bread soaked in a beautiful tomato sauce. The fried, soggy, sauce soaked bread was what I liked best about this dish.
Artichokes wrapped in dolma leaves and steamed, had a subtle flavour from the leaves. a must try if you are a vegetarian.
This was clearly the best of all. The boneless lamb shank was slow cooked for eight hours and was served with prune and walnut jam on a bed of creamy eggplant mash and jus. The dish was absolutely beautiful and very bite was a trip to food heaven.
The Kunefe was an absolute surprise. It had shredded kadayif dough which had crunchy sewai like flavour and a filling of unsalted cheese between the layers of the dough; what a lovely balance of textures and flavours. The Turkish ambassador who dropped by our table told us that the shelf life of this cheese is so less that it has to be cooked immediately.
The meal was rounded-up with a cup of freshly brewed Turkish coffee with Turkish delight. I am not a big coffee lover but loved the pretty cup and saucer it was served in. Anyone going to Istanbul, please get me these.
The Ottoman Cafe pop-up is on till 1st May with a special brunch on 30th April and 1st May. Read more about it here.
You absolutely shouldn’t miss it, afiyet olsun!
I was invited by Four Seasons Worli to preview the Ottoman Cafe pop-up menu.