Dashain Pop-up and Nepali Food at Gitika’s Pakghor

I grew up in a city – Gorakhpur – that practically shares its border with Nepal. I have visited Nepal a couple of times as a kid and recently with family, but it was in Mumbai at an Assamese house that I had my first taste of real Nepalese food.

Gitika Saikia’s latest pop-up brings to the fore the food eaten by Nepalese during 15 day long festival of Dashain or Durga Puja. Divided into 5 courses, the meal include traditional festive food along with staple Nepali food. I attended the first pop-up yesterday and here’s what you can expect in the next pop-up which Gitika will host on the 15th of October. Tickets are available on www.insider.in

Dashain Meal at Gitika's Pakghor

Dashain Meal at Gitika’s Pakghor

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A real Koli meal in Versova’s Koli Village with Authenticook

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a bunch of enthusiastic people who run a food-based start-up that promotes regional Indian cuisine. Authenticook – launched sometime in late 2015 by bankers Ameya Deshpande and Priyanka Deshpande, advertising professional Sai Ghatpande and consultant Aneesh Dhairyawan – focuses on the cuisines of various communities through home dining experiences. The meals are hosted at the homes of people from various communities like the Koli, Pathare Prabhu, Bohri Muslim or Tulu Nadu Mangaloreans, so the food that you get to taste is 100 per cent true to that community or region.

I attended the Koli pop-up hosted by home chef Rajini who stays deep inside the Versoval Koli village. We met the Authenticook crew at the entrance of the village and walked through the tiny by lanes, colourful houses and wedding preparations (yep, there were two happening simultaneously) to our host’s house. The aroma of fried fish and hot bhakris filled our nostrils even before we entered the house which had a kitchen as big as my living room.

Fish thali at Koli lunch with Authenticook

Fish thali at Koli lunch with Authenticook

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Konkanastha Brahmin Menu at JW Marriott Sahar and Panchamrut Recipe

Every trip that you make, to distant shores or a village close-by, leaves you enriched with new experiences, culture and abundant knowledge of food – something that’s been inspiring me to travel more. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Konkan region of Maharashtra with the chefs and marketing team of JW Marriott Sahar. The idea was to learn about the Konkanastha Brahmin cooking straight from the people of that community.

I have written about the trip on India Food Network

We drove to Guhagar and Diveagar where we stayed at homestays and ate at the khanaval – local eateries. The locals opened their hearts and kitchens and taught us their family recipes. We watched young girls shaping perfect modaks, learnt to make hand-made rice sewai from an old grandmother and snacked on the most fabulous awla candy with cardamom flavoured raw mango sherbet. We even visited a mango farm and picked raw mangoes, fresh kokum fruit and cashews. Continue reading

Ashtami prasad and dahi ki pakodi recipe

Navratri is here and my whole week is spent in the anticipation of the Ashtami Prasad. Chaitra Navratri, which falls in March-April, is when Hindus worship goddess Durga and her nine forms. People usually fast and pray and on Ashtami the fast is broken with a prasad. In North this prasad is more like a grand meal with puri, subzi, halwa, kheer and more.

At my home it was always kale chane – see my recipe of kale chane ki ghughniyan here – puri, dahi ki pakodi and suji (semolina) halwa. For some reason, the meal would never taste the same if cooked on any other day of the year. It’s a lot like the karah prasad at Gurudwaras; offering it as bhog somehow adds to the taste. Continue reading

Andhra Thali at Gonguura, Juhu

Andhra thali at Gonguura

I have tremendous respect for people who work towards making regional food more popular, and that’s what keeps taking me to Gitika Saikia’s Assamese pop-ups or at Rushina’s APB Cook Studio (you should check out her Culinary Legacy series). Recently, I met another such passionate foodie who gave Mumbai its first Andhra restaurant.

Srividya, the owner of Gonguura in Juhu, is extremely soft-spoken and talks about her cuisine with a glint in her eyes. I had a long chat with her over an Andhra thali, where she introduced me to the vegetarian Andhra food. Continue reading