Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jawhar – Paradise near Mumbai

The best part of traveling is when you find paradise in an unexpected place. We weren’t expecting much of Jawhar when a friend recommended it as a weekend getaway. A place in Thane District, around 180 kms from Mumbai, how beautiful or serene can it be, we thought. But a 3 hour drive to a hilly place close by vs the 7 hour tiring one to Mahabaleshwar sounded like a better idea to us. So we packed our bags, checked the map and left for this little village.

How to reach there
There are no tourist buses to Jawhar, train will only take you till Dahanu Rd. station from where it’s difficult to get a public transport. Hence driving or hiring a cab is the best idea. If you are on Western Suburbs drive towards Ghodbunder Road and get on to NH8. Make sure you have a full tank and GPS connection, switch it on and keep following the route.

Where to stay
There are just 3-4 hotels in Jawhar. We stayed at Shanti Sarovar Resort. Located near Jaysagar lake, the hotel is a perfect location. They offer a package with 3 meals. We paid Rs 1700 per head for the non AC room and lunch, dinner and breakfast. The rooms are clean but make sure you take the one facing the lake with a small balcony. The food is decent with dal, sabzi, roti, rice and a non vegetarian dish for lunch and dinner. We had a decent omelette and bread for breakfast. Other than the hotel, the town does not have many options to eat. However, if you go during monsoons eating bhajiyas and pav pakodas at the roadside stalls is a good idea.

What to see
The Jaysagar dam on Jaysagar lake is just 5 miutes away from Shanti Sarovar Resort. It's beautifully peaceful near the lake, even with the sound of the water flowing through the dam. 

Around 18 kms from Jawhar, towards Silvassa, is Dabhosa waterfall. The 300 feet high waterfall on Lendi river is surrounded by thick forest.

The journey more beautiful than the destination

The road to Jawhar is mostly good except for some rough patches. The route is full of beautiful landscapes. I probably saw all shades of green in this trip. There were beautiful farms, paddy fields and small vineyards on the way from Jawhar to Dabhosa. Small streams of river will make you want to jump into them or just dip your feet in the cool river water and sit for hours.

This sleepy Hamlet so close to Mumbai is still untouched by the crowd running towards Lonavla every monsoons. If you are planning to do the same I'd suggest you take a U-turn and head to Jawhar instead.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dad, dosa and the hunt for the perfect tawa

As a kid making idli - dosa at our home was a monthly ritual. The preparations that went behind it would've easily made us look like a South Indian family. Mom would soak the dal and rice overnight for dosa batter and would grind it into a paste, sil-batta being her weapons of choice till dad gifted her a food processor. Her proportions for the batter were always accurate, consistency always right.

The sambhar that she makes still has the same taste as it had some 20 years ago and I still prefer it over all the Cafe Madras and Cafe Mysores. Her simple chutney made of chana dal, coconut and dahi was the star of the meal, I've not eaten similar chutney anywhere else.

While mom cooked her perfect sambhar, chutney and aloo sabzi for masala dosa, it was dad who donned the Chef's hat to make dosas. His practiced hands poured a bowl of batter on the hot pan, spread it quickly making thin, crisp and even colored dosas while my sisters and I gobbled one after another. Dad's interest in the art and technique of making dosas started in his college days in Lucknow when he and his friends used to go out to eat dosas. He always stood next to the cook observing him, watching his every move keenly.

After starting to make dosa at home dad used the non stick tawa for a very long time. One fine day he went to the market and got a special flat iron tawa made for himself. The tawa that he has is a lot bigger than the one in the video, and heavier too. His dosas got bigger and crispier on the iron tawa eventually, spoiling him for life. Now every time he comes to stay with my sister in Bombay he cribs at the lack of good tawa. Last year he searched the Kharghar market and bought one that sort of fulfilled his need, only for the time being though. He is in town again and planning on getting a heavy iron one for my sis this time. Meanwhile I took a video of him making dosa in his signature style. I don't know how much time it'll take me to make dosas like this but I am in no hurry since the husband is learning.

Sorry for the bad quality and too much noise in the video. I didn't get enough time to edit it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Restaurant Review - EAT.Deli.Cafe, Bandra (W)

Bandra’s latest deli/cafe opens quietly in the midst of bustling Pali Naka. We walked in for dinner and comes out impressed with cosy interiors and big portions.

Small pots of plants placed vertically on the wall, a French style door with chalkboard; the entrance of EAT – Deli.Cafe makes you wish that it was in a quaint corner of Bandra instead of the busy Pali Market. The flight of stairs leading to the basement seating has been used intelligently to create the seating space. 

The menu though not extensive, offers enough variety right from all day breakfasts, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, mains etc. We started with a Grilled chicken, hazelnut and herb toasted veggies in balsamic yogurt dressing salad (Rs 390). Full of flavours the salad had poached pears to add a little sweetness, yogurt to cut through the sourness of balsamic and hazelnut to add a lovely crunchiness. This with the fresh bread and mustard based spread gave a good start to our meal. We would’ve loved a glass of red wine to go with it but the restaurant isn't serving alcohol as yet. 

The beverage section has a very cool option where you can turn any of the dessert into a
cake shake. We tried the Hazelnut ganache shake (Rs 270) – thick and chocolaty, a definite hit among the kids. The big juicy BBQ chicken burger (Rs 420) that we ordered next can easily be added to the list of must try burgers. The juicy chicken pieces slathered in barbeque sauce, slapped between whole wheat burger breads are served with chunky potato wedges and some salad on the side. You can top your burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, blue cheese, sour cream or goat cheese by adding Rs 90 to the price of the burger. Being the carnivores that we are we topped ours with bacon.

Our pick from the mains was Penne with tossed baby potato, roast garlic, almond, green beans and pesto cream (Rs 370). The al Dante pasta came tossed in a very mild pesto sauce. The highlight of the dish was the crispy baby potatoes with roasted garlic. With our tummies already touching the ground we ordered one last indulgence, the dessert. The Three layer chocolate cake (Rs 240) was sinful with layers of dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate mousse on a thin slice of cake making it very heavy.

Soon after our dinner we were making plans to come back for breakfast. With Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (Rs 370) and Blue velvet cheesecake (Rs 240) on the menu our expectations are high.

Must try: Grilled chicken, hazelnut and herb toasted veggies in balsamic yogurt dressing salad, BBQ chicken burger

Meal for two: Rs 1690 (inclusive of taxes)

Shop No. 13, Dheeraj Arcade,
Pali Naka,
Bandra (W), Mumbai
Phone: 022 2640 0090

Facebook: EAT - Deli.Cafe
Twitter: @eatdelicafe
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