The best meals of 2017 – Where and what I ate

How you begin the new year sets the tone for the rest of it…

It’s true. I started 2017 with a langar at a Gurudwara in New Bombay, wishing for  equally great meals in the coming year. And what a fabulous food year it was. I traveled to various cities for food. Took a trip to Pune to try the famous Bedekar misal and loved it, went to Surat to eat the locho and visited the ponkh market, traveled to Indore (done that twice this year already) and found another food city to fall in love with, took a solo trip to Calcutta and Meghalaya (where I ended up making some most amazing friends), traveled to Goa to learn sourdough which became one of the most brilliant experiences of 2017, traveled to Indore (again) and ended the year with a trip to Srilanka. Apart from all the good food I ate at these places, there were umpteen fabulous meals cooked by my mother, a couple of trips to Lucknow that involved loads of chaat, and some amazing beef curry/fish curry and rice meals at Chetna (PositivityAngel’s) house. Don’t think I can be thankful enough for this year.

I am an atheist, but somehow going to a Gurudwara doesn't feel like I am confirming to any religion. The idea of following a teacher and learning from his/her experiences sounds more logical to me than blind faith. Also, what fascinates me is their self-less service and the feeling of giving back to the community. Eating at a langar with people from different casts, religions and financial backgrounds and accepting your food with a feeling of gratitude is a humbling experience. So glad to start my food journey this year with such a beautiful meal. I hope the food that I eat this year helps me connect to my roots and make me aware of the efforts people put-in to put that food on my table. Also, here's a big thankyou to all the people who came into my life this past year, taught me new things, gave me new experiences and motivated me to be better than myself. I don't know whether all of you will be part of my journey onwards, but I will always cherish and value those times, learnings and experiences. Wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful new year. #NewYear #gratitude #CircleOfPositivity #Happy2017 #gurudwara #food #langar #feelinghumbled #thankyou #HappyNewYear

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Sarafa Market, Indore

Indore has won me over for life with it’s food. I have already taken two trips to the city this year and I think it’ll become a mandatory feature in my life. The bhutte ka kiss, garadu, sabudana khichdi and wafers bana ke at the Sarafa Market are the epitome of street food. You haven’t truly experienced India’s street food if you haven;t visited Indore.


Sarafa Market, Indore

Bengali Meal, Mukherjee Guest House, Calcutta

Earlier this year I traveled to Calcutta and stayed at a homestay in Salt Lake owned by a lovely couple. As soon as I reached, which was a little after lunch time, I was served this fabulous Bengali meal cooked by the owner’s mother and the Mashi who cooks food in their house. Clockwise on the plate – dhokar dalna – dumplings made of dal cooked in tomato gravy, chicken kasha – chicken cooked in nice onion and tomato gravy, rice, dal – loved the hint of sweetness, bengun bhaja, pabda or catfish shorshe with lots of kalaunji (nigella seeds), tomato chutney and shukto – Bengali mixed veg of raw banana, yam and other vegetables.

You can checkout the guest house here.

Bengali Thali, Calcutta

Khasi Food, Meghalaya

The Calcutta trip was actually a pit-stop to the Meghalaya trip which I took with Chalo Hoppo (the company organises trips in North East India and is owned by an absolute fun bunch of young guys). We ate a lot of Khasi food all through the trip, but this meal in particular which I had at Mylliem was the most memorable one. Also, it was our first Khasi meal which included Dal, rice, tungrymbai – a paste of fermented soybean, sesame seeds slow-cooked with pork, tungtap – dried fish chutney, dohkhlieh – boiled pork salad with ginger and onion.

Checkout Chalo Hoppo guys here.


Khasi Food, Meghalaya

Chef Rishim Sachdeva’s new menu, Olive Bar and Kitchen, Bandra

Ask me what’s that one perfect dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant in Mumbai and I’d say it’s this plate of lamb ribs at Olive Bar and Kitchen. Brilliantly tender lamb with carrot puree, grilled baby carrot which is also cooked in the puree (it’s not in the pic but was part of the dish I had), grilled corn cob and corn miso (fermented paste of corn kernels) which just takes the dish to another level. I have already been there twice in two months and think will keep going back.

Chef Rishim Sachdeva is doing fabulous work at the restaurant. His pickle bar is a work of art. When you go there make sure to ask him about the different jars and the stuff they contain. He’s using varied fermentation techniques in the dishes. Like the 3 day fermented hummus which is so creamy and so fluffy you’ll be amazed. The green peas puree in sweet potato gnocchi has fermented lemon instead of lemon juice that keeps the green colour intact and adds a beautiful layer of flavour. Add to that, everything is sourced locally except lamb, salmon and pork. Yes, even cheese. I think this man is a genius. 

 📸Courtesy @adiwanji

Asian Food, Shizusan

Some good meals get better because of company. That’s the story behind the meal at Shizusan. Loved hteir sushi, bao, gyoza and lobster. One of the best Asian restaurants in Mumbai. Also, I shared this meal with my best friends – Amrita, Vipul and Radhika – which is why this one makes it to the list.

Meal at Shizusan

Kumauni Food, Meraki Bombay

A Kumaoni meal in Bombay, cooked by an awesome Kumaoni cooked who brought the fresh produce from the region. Pooja of Meraki Bombay – the Kumaoni and Meghalaya food pop-up – invited a bunch of friends over for this fabulous meal. There were big fat cucumbers with alsi and garlic salt, bhang chutney, pahadi aaloo cooked with jakhiya (local spice), bajre ki roti with local greens, mooli ki thichvani (a curry made with smashed radish and potatoes), dal, bhekti fish curry (bhang seeds were used to thicken the curry), beautiful smokey beef curry and bal mithai to end the meal. We also munched on fresh peaches, apricots, sour berries and lichis plucked from the trees. 

Checkout Meraki Bombay on Facebook.

Kumaoni Food, Meraki Bombay

Independence Day Special Meal, A Ramanayak Shri Krishna Udipi and Boarding House

Had this amazing south Indian meal at A Ramanayak which is their Indepenence Day special meal. Love their philosophy of keeping it simple and accessible to everyone. Also, they don’t hesitate in reprimanding customers if they are wasting food. Kudos to such places and people who run them.

A Ramanayak Shri Krishna Udipi and Boarding House

Khandeshi Lunch, Peckish Mumbai

Khandeshi lunch at Aparna Surte‘s house, the brain behind Peckish Mumbai where she hosts pop-ups and take cooking workshops. The meal was organised by Authenticook, another company which is doing amazing job bringing focus on regional food. Khandesh forms the northwestern part of Maharashtra which includes the Jalgaon district. Being a dry area and low on fresh produce the food of this region is spicy, oily with lots of chutneys and pickles. Our meal today was cooked by Aparna and her mother Sanjeevni. .

On the plate there’s a chicken curry cooked in Khandeshi kala masala, patavada aamti (stuffed and steamed bengal gram flour dumplings in curry), raw methi with garlic and sesame, pithla (besan preparation), vangyachi bharit (mashed brinjal), thecha, two types of chutneys and bajra bhakri. There was also khichdi with lasaneeche tel (garlic oil) and sewai kheer. All of this served with ‘Khandeshi agrah’. Absolutely killer lunch!

Khandeshi Lunch, Peckish Mumbai

Sinhalese Meal, Colombo

A brilliant meal that I had at a home chef’s house on Colombo. Sinhalas are the original settlers of Srilanka and their meal includes curries and rice. There are so many spices and ingredients that go into Sinhalese cooking, it’s a lot like Indian food and yet so different. My meal included dal, rice, jackfruit curry, chicken curry, egg plant curry, beans, dry fish preparation, two types of sambol and watalappam. There’s a lot that I learnt about Sinhalese food which I’ll soon share in another blog post along with the details of the home chef.

Sinhalese Meal, Colombo


Amrita ke mahaan parathe

This girl is my favourite cook and her parathas – ghee loaded – are slowly becoming my absolute comfort food. So crisp, so amazing and so good! You have to eat them to know what I am talking about.

Paratha, Amrita Rana

Prawn Curry, Veg Stew and Sourdough, The Sumitrans

Coming to my most memroable travel experience of 2017 – the sourdough baking workshop in Goa at Sujit Sumitran’s house. So much learning, so much positivity and such good food. I think Sujit’s sourdough breads and Sudha’s curries and stews are made for each other.


Asian Langar

What do you do when you have a bottle of Sake lying around that you brought back from your Japan trip? You get together with friends and make loads of Asian food (enough to suffice a langar hence #AsianLangar) to drink the sake with. Cooked this amazing lunch with Amrita and Radhika where we cooked stir fried Malabar spinach, mushroom gyoza, cold noodles salad with miso and peanut butter dressing, miso eggplant and okonomiyaki. And, there was lemongrass-basil sangria with coconut rum to accompany the lovely feast.

Asian Meal

Dal Bafle, Amrita’s Mom

Amrita’s mom is such an amazing cook and she feeds everyone with so much love. I’ve been to Indore twice this year and she happily cooked this meal of daal, bafle, kadhi, aloo ki subzi and chutney for me.

Dal Bafle, Indore


Why Sarafa Market Is The Jewel In Indore’s Nightlife

This post was written for India Food Network

“This is Sarafa market, you will feel a different vibe here in the night,” said Amrita, my friend and host in Indore, as we drove through the tiny by-lanes during the day. In a city where food is a conversation starter, my hopes were high and I couldn’t wait to dive headlong into the street, which has many seasoned food writers swearing by it. I walk in at Sarafa, armed with my curiosity and appetite.

The shops that had gold and silver jewellery shining through their windows now had their shutters down, and the street was lined with makeshift food stalls. Amrita has the itinerary chalked out listing down everything I must try with room for whatever catches my fancy.

Bhutte ka kees and garadu, Sarafa Market in Indore

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What to eat in Indore – In pictures

I was in Indore a few days ago for a mere one and a half day trip, and man what a trip it was. In just one day I covered 56 Dukaan, Nafees Biryani and Sarafa Bazaar. Here’s my Indore food trip in pictures (it’ll make you pack your bags, trust me) and a quick checklist of what to eat and where whaen you travel to Indore.

Pohe-Jalebi, Sabudana Wada with Dahi, Aloo ki Kachori, Indore

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A weekend in Bhopal

When in Bhopal do what Bhopalis do; eat pohe – jalebi in the morning with rounds of kadak chai and loads of bakar (random conversations about anything right from the weather to politics). The city is sleepy and slow still you will see people getting up early in the morning just to eat pohe, jalebis and kachoris fresh from the wok. That’s exactly what I did on the first day; woke up to watch sunrise from Kaliyasot Dam which is a 15 kms drive from Shahpura lake. The lake is equally beautiful early in the morning and a perfect place for bird watching. Thick fog floating over the lake during winters gives it an almost mysterious look.

After soaking in the early morning sun and the view we took a pit stop at a sweet shop in Nehru Nagar to eat jalebis, pohe and hot cup of Banwari Bhai Ki Nakhrali Chai. Every nook and corner of Bhopal serves this simple yet delicious breakfast early in the morning. On a chilly winter morning when you don’t want to leave the blanket, stepping out for crispy hot jalebis is worth all the trouble.

Another great place to grab some breakfast is the very famous Indian Coffee House in New Market. Although the decor has been changed a lot and the signature green curtains are gone yet the food remains as good as it was years ago. Hot idlis and wadas dunked in sambhar coupled with filter coffee is the perfect comfort food.
The new Bhopal city has plenty to offer; there’s Sair Sapata near Bada Talab, perfect for an evening stroll and a boat ride in the lake. Birla Temple gives a beautiful view of the lake and city in the evening. For the History and Culture buffs there’s Manav Sangrahalaya and the newly opened Tribal Museum.
A part of Bhopal which is not to be missed is the Old City. There’s a beautiful charm in the narrow lanes of the markets around Jama Masjid. The area is always bustling with people and there are small shops making chhole tikiya, phulki (Bhopali version of Pani Puri), kulche, chhole bhature, lassi and much more. Hotel Jameel in Ibrahimpura is a great place to grab some nalli nihari, rumali roti, kebabs and chicken fry for lunch. However, post 7pm all Bhopalis have just one destination, the famous Chatori Galli selling bade ke kebab, haleem, nalli nihari and biryani (my visit to this unparalleled galli is still due and I promise a separate post on that after my visit). 
There are also a couple of bakeries in Ibrahimpura market which sell freshly baked breads like sheermal, bakarkhani etc; a perfect foil to the spicy mutton gravies. If you’re not fond of breads do pick up some nankhatais and rusks from these shops.
One delicacy that you shouldn’t miss is the Barf rasmalai ke done at Ramudada’s stall. At around 4pm a guy comes on a Bajaj scooter near Jama Masjid with his whole stall set on the backseat of the scooter. Apart from the regular ice golas (crushed ice flavoured with syrups) he makes the rasmalai dona. He takes crushed ice in a paper bowl, tops it with sugar syrup, pours a big spoon full of thick rabdi over it, tops it with rose syrup and serves. The grainy rabdi with a layer of ice under it is a perfect combination and I can’t be thankful enough to the blog Bhopale for this recommendation.
10 minutes away from Jama Masjid is Taj ul Masjid, Asia’s largest mosque. The minarets of this mosque can be seen from the Birla Temple which is literally at the other end of the city.
Bhopal has both, an old world charm and a fresh and young vibe in the new city. There’s a lot of development yet the nature has been kept intact. While it’s chaos in the old city, the new city is more planned and clutter free. I wish to explore and share more aspects of this city through words and pictures in my visits to come.