July 8, 2020

Not your average "Indian" meal

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I first met Samaira about a year and a half ago in Macau, at a private after party with the crew from Caprice - who were celebrating the restaurant regaining their third Michelin star.  She is married to Suveg Kavatkar, one of the sous chefs of the restaurant, and during our chat I learned that she is the "real" cook in the family when it comes to "Indian food" - and I used the term out of sheer laziness as I generalized the vast and complex collection of regional cuisines from the sub-continent.  Sadly I never had the privilege to taste her cooking...

... until tonight.  I was pretty excited when I found out that Samaira was doing a pop-up at Test Kitchen - under the moniker of The Bombay East Indian Girl.  The event was organized with Wine Friends, and they very kindly extended me the invitation as it had already been sold out.  I managed to get seats tonight and joined Hairy Legs and Bilbaobab, but I did insist on paying for dinner.

We were seated at the big, communal table by the door, and it was good to catch up with Bilbaobab after not having seen her in so long.  It's good that we were all here to support Samaira and Suveg.

Frédéric Lornet Crémant du Jura Brut NV - definitely plenty of red fruits, and also a little pungent.  Very easy to drink but with a little bitterness on the finish.

Chakna: khakra - the crispy flatbread from Gujarat were meant to be taken with condiments.

Raw mango chutney - nice and savory, with a little fermented flavor... kinda like salted lemon.

Ground peanuts, sesame seeds, and roasted chick peas - this came with a nice little kick.

Bombay street: beetroot puri, chole chaat - each of us got three of these, and thankfully the beetroot flavors didn't come through in the puri.  On top you had whole chick peas along with yogurt, three kinds of "imperial" chutneys, a sprinkle of crunchy sev noodles, pomegranate seeds, and... my favorite ingredient of all - GOLD FOIL!  This was pretty nice with spices and also a little heat.

Batata: East Indian lamb potato chop, green pea chutney, kachumber - this kinda looked like one of those Maryland crab cakes... but of course it wasn't.  We were told that kachumber is like "Indian salsa", and I do have to say that the taste was similar.  The green pea chutney reminded me of the green sauce that often comes with papadums...

The potato patty was certainly crispy on the outside, and the minced lamb inside certainly was spicy and packed some heat, especially when you bite into the chopped chilis.  Very, very delicious.

2016 Bechtold Gewurztraminer Obere Hund - very floral nose with lychee and honey.  Sweet on the attack but quickly changed to bitter mid-palate, thanks to being too ripe.  Almost like mango.  Kinda viscous, which helps coat the tongue and neutralizes the heat, although not complete.  A good pairing with the batata.

Mauhra: East Indian fish kujit in banana leaf - the thick slab of white pomfret was steamed inside the banana leaf coated in a green curry paste made of coconut, coriander, and tamarind - among other spices.  Very juicy thanks to the moisture being retained while wrapped inside the leaf.  Loved the flavors of the green curry.

The fermented rice cake was like an appam, and came in very handy when trying to soak up all that curry.  Not sure why the radish slices were there, though...

2007 Josmeyer Pinot Gris "1854" Fondation - more plastic and polyurethane on the nose, oxidized, almost pineapple and kinda lychee, definitely tropical notes.  Also some minerals, and ripe on the palate.

Kombdi: bottle masala sous-vide chicken with curry leaf spiced tadka, Khuddi sauce, flavoured cumin rice - the chicken thigh had been cooked sous vide in homemade bottle masala mix, and was very tender as expected.  The tadka on top made of chiffonade of curry leaves was beautifully aromatic.  The Khuddi sauce in the middle was really creamy and rich, with nutty flavors coming from cashews.  The basmati rice on the side came with the fragrance of cumin along with some cashews.

This was delicious.  And from the speed at which Hairy Legs cleaned up his plate, he either really loved it, or he was still starving after the previous 3 dishes...

2016 Valle Dell'Acate Il Frappato - MEH. Kinda flat on the palate.

Goda che: The Bombay East Indian Girl aamrakhand twist - the yogurt was made with Alphonso mangoes, and flavored with saffron, cardamom... etc.  Paired with Alphonso mango and garnished with - what else? - gold leaf... and pistachio.

2016 Château de Bastard, en demi-bouteille - very ripe and kinda alcoholic on the palate, with beeswax, ripe pineapple, and botrytis notes on the nose.  Actually when paired with the dessert, it tasted like drunken chicken made with Shaoxing wine.

Masala chai 

This was a very nice dinner, and a good opportunity for us to taste dishes that aren't the run-of-the-mill stuff.  Very, very happy for Samaira to have pulled off this pop-up, and hoping to taste more of her cuisine in the future.

1 comment:

Samaira Kavatkar said...

Thank you Peter for the kind words. Appreciate all the support- means a lot coming from you. Looking forward to seeing you again ������


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