Khyber Restaurant, Fort – Mumbai

You know that feeling when you’ve walked by a place a hundred times and finally when you go in, you wonder, “Why haven’t I been here sooner?” That’s exactly how I felt when I went to Khyber. Khyber is opposite Rhythm House in Fort and looks like the tiniest restaurant from outside. We wanted to celebrate S’s big achievement and were wondering what to do for dinner. Punjabi/Indian food was our obvious choice, but where to go? Khyber came up to be the most voted option. The crazy love I have for Zomato and Burrp, I snuck online to check the reviews. Most said it was good, but a few said it was ok. I was a little skeptical when we went and am so happy to say my skepticism was totally wiped away when we entered!

Just as we were about to enter, I thought, “this looks like a cute little restaurant.” I assumed it would have a seating capacity of about 70ish people. When we entered the restaurant, I was in love with its design. I felt like I had entered some restaurant in another era. They have a beautiful painting by the famous Indian artist, Anjali Ela Menon at the entrance. You see a marble staircase leading you up to the upper floors of the restaurant. There is a lot of white stone/sand stone used on the walls and for the sculptures. Vintage Indian wooden doors, lamps and large metal pots are used to accentuate the décor.

We were about 8 people and went up to one of the more private rooms. It feels like you’re in a cave and I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling. The space was so much more private. I was thankful that the restaurant wasn’t too loud or perhaps we were isolated from the noise. The crockery is simple and tasteful and staff was reasonably attentive. For a section that could seat about 15 people, there were 3 servers and 1 captain. I do appreciate having good service in a fine dining restaurant and an understaffed restaurant is just a turn off. We were handed over the menus and I went into my little world to drool over all the yummy things available and their description.

We started off by ordering the tandoori aloo, which is stuffed with dry fruits, mashed potatoes and spices and decided to order a vegetarian platter so we could try a whole bunch of things. The platter was HUGE! The paneer was soft and beautifully flavored. It wasn’t spicy at all and I loved it! The reshmi broccoli was cooked well and very mildly flavored. The baby corn pakoras were coated in a batter and deep-fried and the kebabs were cooked in a tandoor and covered in a delicious spice. The starters were all lovely, though I have eaten better reshmi broccoli at the Four Seasons, Udaipur. They were more than enough for our party of 8 and I would have loved to eat only appetizers as mains.

We did decide to order just 2 mains since we were full with all the appetizers. We settled for vegetable malai kofta and channa masala. The malai kofta was the best malai kofta I have ever eaten! The gravy was creamy but delicately spiced with saffron, cardamom and other Mughal spices. The koftas themselves were cooked perfectly and were so soft. They went perfectly well with the gravy/curry. The channa masala was completely different from what I would have imagined. That’s when I realized I was thinking of chhole masala and this was channa masala. The main flavor was that of asafoetida in my opinion and was a little spicier compared to the malai kofta. Together, the vegetables complemented each other and created a lovely balance.

I was told that the Maa ki Dal was one of the most famous dishes of Khyber. Being a lover of Dal Makhani, i decided I would love to try it. The dal was wonderful! It was perfectly spiced and was not as creamy as a dal makhani. If I can be a little poetic, it felt like the spices were dancing on my tongue! I wish I hadn’t eaten as much for dinner so I would be able to do complete justice to the dal.

Our meal was in celebration of S’s achievement and it was an absolute perfect celebration! The food was excellent, the ambience was beautiful and the service was good. We had a lovely time and I can’t wait to go back again! If you are going to visit Mumbai or have international guests, you must go to Khyber. It has been around for years and is like a Mumbai Classic restaurant. Its also a great choice to go for a date.The next time we do go, it’s going to be a Maa ki Dal and Malai Kofta meal for me! I still can’t them out of my head! They were so good!!

Will I go there again??? OMG! I can’t wait to go back again!! For its amazing food and unique décor, I give Khyber Restaurant, Mumbai a 4.5/5.

Restaurant Timings: 12:30 PM-3:30 PM, 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Contact Information: 02222673227, 02240396666, 02222673229

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Tea Time Accessories!

My two favourites meals would be breakfast and ‘teatime’! As kids, tea time meant hot chocolate milk with biscuits or a snack.  I always looked forward to the biscuit part! My favourites were and still are – Bourbon chocolate biscuits and Nice, sugar coated coconut biscuits. I always enjoyed India’s classic biscuit- Parle-G. When I was studying in  California, I would try to find them at the nearest Indian store and dip them in some deliciously spiced, milky Indian tea!

I still enjoy my biscuits dipped in my milky tea.  While I prefer herbal teas, if there are biscuits and if I’m at home, I’m going to get good ol’ Indian sweet,spiced milky tea to dip my biscuits. You definitely enjoy this type of tea on a rainy and slightly cold afternoon.

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I love the versatility of the food you can serve with tea. They’re easy to eat, finger foods that aren’t heavily spiced.  They’re fun to make and you can have interesting shapes. I was having a few friends over yesterday and I decided to get some biscuits, bake cupcakes with a rich chocolate frosting, make a hung curd dip to serve with herbed pita chips and make my shortcut bruschetta!

I had so much fun making everything in bite sized portions and was happy to see that they enjoyed it.

What I enjoyed the most was using a cake stand that S and I got as a wedding gift from my cousin! The plates were Victorian era influenced and u loved the way it all came together. I decided to  make it the ‘sweet station’. I put all the biscuits and cupcakes on the stand and made it my center piece.

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Girls love sugar even if they are publicly obliged to hate it because of all the calories! We totally enjoyed our sugar and  had a wonderful evening sipping our teas and coffees amidst the sound of raindrops.

Homemade Pasta

Who knew it could be so easy to make fresh pasta?

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I love pasta but am always a little put off by the fact that its almost always made of only all purpose flour and that there are so many preservatives in it. There are wheat variants available but I knew there had to be some catch to it.

When I found out we had a pasta rolling machine at home, I was excited.  I had to try it out! Making pasta at home?? Would that be difficult or easy? I began my  research.  It all came down to flour and eggs.  Thats all. Nothing more needed.

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Homemade Pasta

Serves: 3 people

Ingredients

3/4th cup Whole Wheat Flour (finely grounded)

3/4th cup All Purpose Flour
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp water

Method

1. Clean a table top and add both the flours on the table top. Mix them well  together.
2. Create a small mountain of the flour and make a well in the middle.
3. Break both the eggs in the center of the well.
4. Slowly incorporate the eggs in the flour to make stiff dough.
5. If the dough feels very dry and cannot be  completely bound with just the eggs, add one tablespoon of water at a time to ensure a stiff dough.
6. Knead the dough very well for 10 minutes.  The more you knead the dough, the better will be the consistency of your pasta.
7.Pasta dough is much drier than any other dough so ensure you don’t make it very wet.
8. Cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest for at least an hour.
9. Once the dough has treated well, knead it again.
10. Cover the table top with some flour and roll the dough into a shape thin enough to go into your pasta machine.
11. Run the dough in the pasta machine till it has reached its thinnest sheet.
12. Using the cutter attachment in your pasta machine, cut the pasta into the shape you prefer.
13. Once the pasta has been cut, if not using  immediately, dry them by laying them out on a clean piece of cloth for about 3 hours.
14. To cook this pasta, heat a large pot of water with enough salt.
15. Allow the water to come to a rolling boil. A rolling boil ensures that the pasta doesn’t stick to each other.
16. Add the pasta to the boiling water and allow them to cook for at least 6 minutes.  Check after 6 minutes to see  if they are done.
17. Once done, drain the water from the pasta and add it to your favourite sauce!

We loved this pasta and S kept saying that it tastes sweeter and fresher than regular,dried pasta. The pasta didn’t feel heavy and we enjoyed mixing it with a pesto sauce and a fresh pomodoro sauce!

Enjoy a lovely Italian meal with your family tonight!!

Delightful Start to a weekend

We have been loving and using our Gaggia espresso machine to the fullest! The coffee is so good and so flavorful that I don’t enjoy drinking coffee outside anymore! The beautiful aroma and richness of the coffee is unparalleled.
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S and I are lucky to have amazing friends and family who get us great gourmet coffee.  I found a package of Kalhua coffee in the fridge and we have had the best time drinking it. The aroma is lovely and fills the house with a heady fragrance. The taste is even better.  Light on the palate and not strong with the caffeine. When we press this coffee, the house smells perfumed!

This morning, we ground fresh coffee. We had this espresso blend coffee beans and thought of starting our weekend with a great cup of coffee.  As soon as I ground the beans and inhaled the aroma, I knew we were in for a treat! The fragrance was gorgeous- rich and caramelly!

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The aroma prompted all of us to try a cup the way we enjoy our coffees. We had espressos, Cappuccino and Americano. The aroma hadn’t prepared us for the beautiful taste and richness of the coffee!! They were all just wonderful.
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What a great start to our weekend! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too! 

Seasonal Tastes, Westin – Pune

Who doesn’t love a good buffet? Buffets signify elaborate, generous and decadent food. While I always feel I can never do justice to a buffet because I cant eat that much, I always enjoy observing how they have set the buffet up and how well they have decorated it.  My favorite counter, without any doubt, has to be the dessert counter. There are always those few standard cakes that you know there will be. There will be a super indulgent chocolate cake, a fruit based cake, some cookies, ice cream and a few Indian sweets.  Its very rare that hotels change the menu of the buffet and sometimes its nice to know exactly what’s there to eat so you can plan beforehand your strategy!

 

The Westin, Pune is a very interesting building. The hotel seems to scream opulence but the décor inside the hotel is clean and modern. I wish I could say it is as impressive as the Taj or Oberoi in Bombay, but it is bigger and lacks in any real character of itself. It’s a grey building and tends to remind me of a commercial building rather than a luxury hotel. Perhaps it is aimed towards the business clientele and hence it is simple and basic in design. I do love the scultptures that they have in the hotel. My favorite is that of a man who seems to be playing some sport. Westin has 3 restaurants that I know of – Kangan, their Indian restaurant; Prego – their Italian restaurant and their 24 hour restaurant, Seasonal Tastes. Apart from these three restaurants, they also have their coffee shop and two bars.

 

Seasonal Tastes offers one of the most elaborate buffets in the city. They have an Asian counter where they will prepare stir fried as well as vegetables or meat in sauces for you. An Indian counter, a salad counter, dessert counter, cheese and nuts platter and my favorite, the Sushi bar! I love Sushi! But since I am a vegetarian, I should re-frame it as I love California Rolls. Westin prepares some delicious sushi and has wonderful accompaniments to it. Some beautifully pickled ginger, pungent wasabi, soy sauce and so on. I normally end up filling my tummy on the delicious California Rolls. I swear, my mouth is drooling as I type this out.

 

I have eaten the Indian food on a few occasions and the last time I had a veg Biryani. It was wonderful. Beautifully cooked with lovely spices and wasn’t dried out as rice sometimes gets in a buffet. The vegetables are always a little less spicy and ‘masaledaar’ than outside, but I am sure that is keeping in mind the tastes of the many foreign guests who stay at the hotel. The only time I actually have eaten the Asian food is when S was with me. S loves Asian food and I am not particularly fond of it. If I remember correctly, it was a little too oily for my liking but they were nice enough to accommodate S’s request for something off their standard menu. The desserts are quite good though I do feel J W Marriott has better desserts. I normally am not jumping towards the dessert counter.

 

I have had breakfast on one occasion and it was a GREAT spread! Wonderful breads, cereals, pastries. They had an egg station which made pancakes and waffles too!  Since this has been quite a while back, I don’t really remember what was on the menu. I remember having a wonderful morning and spending about 3 hours at the restaurant. I was happy with the overall quality of the food and the only complaint I had was that the breads were not very fresh. They seemed a little dried out to me. What I did appreciate was when I mentioned this to the server he promptly called the bakery chef and I could speak to him personally.

 

Westin has a great ambience, but lunch and dinner are always filled with loud, corporate groups. If you are looking for a relaxed, quiet meal, it’s better to try any one of their other restaurants. Seasonal Tastes is dependable and offers food that soothes the palate. For their variety and number of cuisines, it is definitely the number 1 buffet for me in Pune. I give the buffet at Seasonal Tastes a 3.5 out of 5.