Thursday, 1 September 2011

Momo Station - Review

DSC00908Momo Station is perhaps one of the best things that happened to me in Surat. In terms of food, that is. This colourful joint, located on the third floor of Iscon Mall, is a quiet little place and is usually empty and peaceful and hence, I like it there. Another big plus point is that non vegetarian food is available here.

They have a small menu of 3 vegetarian and 3 non vegetarian momos, some soups, some side items and soft drinks. I ignore the rest and focus only on momos. 
I don’t know when I got to love momos. My first memory of momos is having them sitting down on the grass on one of the slopes in Himachal Pradesh during a school trip (some time in 1999). This was introduced to me by one of our teachers who were an Assamese. She went drooling over the spicy momos, made by a hawker, that were gleaming in the winter sun. I had looked curiously at the mushy, off white coloured dumplings. 
When I came across Momo station on one of the many visits to the mall, I squealed with delight. And hence after, I have been a regular customer there. Momo Station has never failed to delight me. I order any of the 3 momo styles offered – Spicy Chicken Momo / Masala Momo / (don’t remember the 3rd one) (either fried or steamed) and prefer having the whole basket (6 momos) to myself. A soft drink goes well with it. 
I and a dear friend, who had never been to MS before, went there some weeks back and she ordered for Thupka (spicy, tangy noodle soup) and I fell in love with it. 
I have tried a vegetarian momo once, which has minced cabbage, cauliflower, etc filling and didn’t quite like it. It had no charm.
Whenever I am undecided about where I should go for food, Momo Station is usually the place I end up going to. Since it is usually scantily crowded, I can sit there peacefully, with no urgency to empty the table for waiting customers. A single basket of momos costs Rs. 65 – Rs. 80, which means a wholesome, healthy, delicious meal in less than Rs. 100! 
Try Momo station if you are looking for something different and unusual than your daily diet and want to tease your spicy taste buds a bit!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Good Ol’ Eggs & Bread

Skipping dinner at the common room today was just an excuse to use up the few days old multi-grain bread lying in the fridge. I have been avoiding my dearest eggs for a few weeks because of my skin allergy but my fetish for eggs took the better of me and I decided to have them anyway. Decided to try out something other than the usual bread and egg fry, which is my all time favourite Sunday breakfast.
Gee. I even feel embarrassed telling what ‘new item’ I tried. French toast! (For all those who don’t know, I can’t cook. But I love eating and have a strong sense of tastes, love trying out new stuff and visualize myself being a master chef is my own grand kitchen some day!).
I recollect having French toast at home during my childhood. Mom has been making sweet and savoury French toasts. Yummy! (Mommy, I miss your cooking 17473). I looked up microwave French toast recipes. Found good ones here:
Surprised. French toast is supposed to be bland? I mean, savoury is out of question. Its either bland with cinnamon flavour or sweet. What about Mom’s fantastic savoury French toast with coriander topping? Mom, your French toast still rocks.
Anyway, decided to try out something on my own. While listening to Bombay Funk on, IDSC00854 beat 2 tiny eggs and little milk (maybe just a tablespoon). Spread 3 slices of bread in a microwavable plate and poured the beaten eggs all over them. Sprinkled pepper powder, chilli flakes (Courtesy: Domino’s Pizza) and good old oregano. Microwaved it for a few minutes and voila! My French toast was ready! Ahem, I didn’t put salt and didn’t turn the bread over while microwaving, but still. Had a good time having it with Sweet-Chilli sauce!
DSC00859How can eggs and bread be complete without coffee, my favourite? Ah. Coffee was needed for my aching legs (am I becoming older at a higher speed all of a sudden? I have aching legs since 3-4 days. I am not 30 yet. Not even married yet). Made my favourite cinnamon coffee (some coffee from Singapore) and relaxed on my bed by the window. 
Now, that’s a perfect way to wind up a hectic day!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Surat Central Food Court–Mela

I have been shopping a lot lately. I know, I know, I am a shopaholic and can’t help but shop, but this lot fas for my sister. Anyway, I happened to get a Rs. 50 off coupon of the newly opened food court on the top floor of Surat Central. I just need an opportunity to eat out (especially if the joint is located in a mall!) and decided to use the coupon. 

I food court, named Mela, has started barely 20 days ago. Maybe thats why they are handing out the coupons – so that people know about it. 

IMG00015-20110706-2059Mela, written in Gujarati 

There was just another family present when we reached there. They have taken up a huge space for this – with some 100 colourful tables to accommodate the several hungry, enthusiastic Suratis, I suppose. I loved the colourful, village school type furniture and the walls. 

IMG00007-20110706-2027I know. Bad photo quality. Taken from 2 mp camera on my Blackberry 

The colourful furniture

My favourite piece of furniture!

There are 5 restaurants functional right now – Journey to Jalandhar, the Punjabi cuisine restaurant. Misumisu, the Chinese place. Sanskar, the Gujarati place (I love it already), Cheerz with Cheese, the fast food place, Vadilal Happinezz, ice creams and Cafe Bollywood, the Indian fast food. So, I can sum up that the variety is good. There is a lot to choose from, depending on your mood and appetite. 

The prices are reasonable. We took a Chilly Corn and Cheese sandwich from Cheerz and Cheeze and it costed us Rs. 50. Since we had to spend Rs. 150 to use the coupon, we went in for noodles and a gravy dish at Misumisu. I must say that they are not fully functional and all the counters may not have all the items on the menu available. I am sure they will start everything once th crowd starts pouring in, which would be soon, I am sure, since Suratis get attracted towards food like butterflies come pulled towards flowers. 

The various wall designs 


The glass work on pillars. We give the Gujarati artwork everywhere. A proud Gujarati! 

I ambience was lovely – huge space, colourful furniture and cool writings on the walls. They have tried to make it look like a sort of a village place. The ceiling is beautiful, with bandhini drapings and lanterns. Sad, couldn’t click those. 

I wonder what will happen once the place gets packed with Suratis possessing mammoth diets. 

Since the place is very close to my place and isn’t very expensive, I don’t mind coming here once in a week, to get a change from the routine roti-sabzi. Moreover, Happinezz menu showed some 50 sundaes. Need to try all of them one by one!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Restaurant Review–Village, Surat

I will never get bored of Village. Maybe because it is such a fun place. Maybe because the food is so yummy there. Village gives you a experience you won't be disappointed with. Its interiors made up to look like an actual village, the staff dressed up like cute, local village folks and the music and dhol to go in the background. A fantastic way to experience the true, traditional Gujarat.

You are greeted by the jovial staff at the entrance, who will politely ask you for Rs. 250 per person (the entrance charge is fixed and you get to eat unlimited food inside!). A second staff member is collect your coupons and put blue ink stamp on your hand as a token. A lady staff, dressed in ghaghra welcomes you with the thali and tilak (the Indian way!). A dash of colour and music hits you as soon as you enter. A ‘banyan tree’ stands right in the middle, with a bangle seller, a mehendi designer and a jyotish (palm reader) with a fancy laptop sits below it. The banyan tree is decorated with colourful and glittery crepe paper. When there is reasonable crowd, the staff comes up with a dhol and garba (the traditional dance of Gujarat) music. The music is irresistible for garba lovers and the several customers join the staff members to dance around the banyan tree. Heaven knows that we just need an excuse to do garba!

You are made to sit on low cane chairs at wooden tables and served water in brass tumblers. Colourful posters of actors and film posters adorn the walls.

Several food stalls are lined along several portions of the walls. Stalls offering a wide range of delicious food items make your willpower go weak and you give in to the magnetic pull of Gujarati delicacies. Chats, Sweets, Sugarcane juice, Chana, Southindian dishes, Chinese (Yes, Chinese too), Pav Bhaji – all invite you to their stalls. You may choose to try a little bit of everything because it is hard to say no to ANYTHING. You are required to go to the stalls, order to the cooks and pick up your food but the staff is more than willing to help. And, oh yes, masala chai wala and chaas wala will also come round to your table on their cycles!

The main course consists of Gujarati and Rajasthani dishes. The vegetables keep changing but the Kheechu, Kadhi, Dal-bati and khichdi are the standard items because they are staple gujarati dishes each meal is incomplete without. These dishes can be had with different types of rotis – Tandoori, Naan, Chhapati or Bhakri – my favourite. The cherry on the cake is always bhakri with ghee-gud (jaggery). Wind up the meal with yummy cool falooda or hot, melt-in-mouth jalebis or the irresistible gulabjamuns. Or, the favourite Indian drink – Masala Chai (Spicy tea) and you conclude only one thought – Heaven must be serving food like this.

Village is economical and fun. Go here for the whole experience, not just the food. The place can get noisy, with the dhol and music and the excited, hungry customers. Best for big groups, parties and gatherings and good for people with voluminous diets!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

My Journey With Food–The Cartoon Phase


Coming back home is like going back to childhood every time. Every little thing reminds me of my wonderful childhood. Food has a special place in my childhood memories.

My earliest memory is sitting along with my teenaged maid, near the washing area, and watching her finish the food given to her by Mum. My sis was very small that time and I spent a lot of time with the maid, Shaanti and later, Manju. Mum used to give her left-over rice in the same vessel in which it was cooked and she made sure she finished the whole thing. She would proudly show me the empty vessel and say – See, not a single grain of rice left. I thought of my messy plate and decided to leave my plate clean, too, henceforth. And hence, also developed the fascination of eating from the vessel in which food was cooked.

I also remember having Cerolac which Mum made for my sis, who was a baby that time.

Mum has been a strict with us as we grew and did not allow us to have junk food like Maggie, biscuits and cold drinks, especially when we were in primary school. Tiffin for school included Roti-Achar, more often than not. Other kids brought sandwiches and biscuits to school, which were a strict no-no for us.

Amid Mahabharata, Duck Tales and Tom & Jerry, Sunday morning breakfast included soft, fluffy Sabudana khichdi with lots of curd, Upma, Poha, Onion-Ajwain Parantha, Egg fry or Boiled eggs along with Maltova milk, of course. How we hated milk! I used to sit with the glass of milk for hours, till it became ice cold and changed it color. Mum would re-heat it and I would sit with it for an hour again. We demanded Bournvita (looked like it was some yummy, ‘foreign’ thing from the ads) but of course we weren’t allowed that too. Apprarently, Bournvita was ‘unhealthy’ because it was only flavour and no nutrition. Horlicks and Complan were more nutritious. And, of course, Maltova. I can’t say which one was the worst. We enjoyed eating Horlicks powder, though.

We were curious minds. We wanted to know EVERYTHING. So, we wanted to have tea. We weren’t allowed of course. ‘You become dark on drinking tea’, was Dad’s answer, to which we always asked back ‘Then, why do you drink?’. ‘Oh, we can have. You are kids.’ was his unconvincing answer. To keep us happy, a beverage called Chai-dhoodh was created. That is, milk passed through just-used tea leaves. It gave slight flavour of tea to milk and we were quite happy with that arrangement.

We could perhaps be renamed as ever-hungry, starving little monsters. We couldn’t wait till lunch was ready. We made trips to the kitchen every now and then to find out if lunch was ready. We peeped into the vessel cooking on the gas stove. I don’t remember Mum shooing us away with the belan but I won’t be surprised if she did. We would finally sit at the table, ready with our plates and bowls, in anticipation of food, our hungry eyes screaming ‘WE WANT FOOD’. Rotis soaked in home-made ghee or white butter with tasty vegetables and dal would finally satisfy our hunger.

Because of our inability to control hunger, some pre-lunch/dinner snacks were invented - Roti-ghee-namak and Bread-butter-jam.

I was always fond of non vegetarian food. I remembering sitting on the floor of the kitchen gulping down almost the entire tandoori chicken made by Mum. Eggs were a must too. I thoroughly enjoyed fish and prawn on our trips to Goa. Till today, I cannot live without eggs and non vegetarian food.
My sis and I were the ideal sisters pair. I, being the elder one, bullied her. She doted on me and aped me blindly. She did everything I asked her to. We played together for hours. We fought. And yet, we couldn’t live without each other. Everything we had got divided into 2 equal parts - Chocolates, biscuits, fruit pieces. If anything was an odd number, one piece went to Mum! I was usually the one who did the distribution. Sometimes, greed overpowered me. I would hide some pieces behind me and divide the remaining into half. My poor little sister never suspected anything.

Summer vacations meant a long trip to my Maternal grandfather’s place at Bombay. The big city had lots more to offer us. Nana happily brought for us Amul Cheese spread (no, it still hadn’t arrived in my little hometown), Mangoes, Wibs bread and fruit buns and rock hard light yellow boondi laddoo. Wibs bread was so much better than the bread we got at home. My Aunt made for us fruit custard and mango milkshake with mango pieces. Talk about being pampered.

Summers at home meant Aam Pana, Chaas and Roohafsa. And yes, Rose Milkshake. I confess, I never liked it. In fact, I used to drain it down into the sink or in the garden when I thought Mum wasn’t looking. Well, she didn’t because I disclosed this to her only recently and she was..... well, she hadn’t known!

I was keen to move on to Maggie and Tea and Coffee. Little did I know that this was going to be the best phase of my life.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Coffee Culture–The hip, trendy joint

IMG00589-20110415-2058I'm thinking loud music. I'm thinking hep youngsters. I'm thinking teenagers with fancy hairstyles and flashy clothes. I'm thinking watching cricket on the big screen. I'm thinking trendy couches. I'm thinking Coffee Culture.

Coffee Culture – the latest, hip youth hangout place in Surat. Coffee Culture happens to be an all vegetarian and a little expensive eating joint located opposite Sargam Complex. The foodie Suratis don’t seem to be minding this as I always find the place full, especially with teenagers.

Coffee Culture boats of a huge range of hot and cold coffees, mocktails, pastas and pizzas. Their coffees are nice. Don’t miss their interesting non-alcoholic mocktails. They keep the orginal names like Mojito, Dead Woman Walking and Pinacolada, but it is obvious that they are all virginDSC00191 drinks. I’ve tried their Mojito and fell in love with it instantly. Mojito is a lemon and mint drink which acts like a superb refresher, especially in this hot, humid weather.

I called over a small group of friends there for a get together and we had an excellent time ordering drinks and snacks at leisure, while watching the IPL on the big screen. In case the group is big, you can order a particular drink in their pitcher (in the pic). It looks beautiful (as does the rest of their crockery) and is quite fun. We ordered 2 Indian flavoured pizzas (Punjabi Addiction & Desi Culture) and a continental one (Farmhouse Feast). I cannot decide which amongst them was the best. The Desi pizza had garlic and peas topping, apart form the usual paneer, onion, capsicum and tomatoes. We were left longing for more. I strongly recommend their pizzas.

I did find the place a tad expensive. With a group of 7 people, we got a bill of Rs. 2,500, which is a bit too much for a coffee joint. I recommend this place for couples or trios, intending to spend easy time without ordering much. Maybe, just a coffee or a drink. Definitely not a place to give treats at!

Well, they also have a small room for kids or group parties.IMG00588-20110415-2034
This is a fun place catering to tastes of all age groups. Come to this place and you will be infused with vibrancy and zest.

Average price per person, in case you go for coffee / drinks only, would be Rs. 150. In case you like to order food too, price may go upto Rs. 350/400.

I would categorize Coffee Culture as a lavish coffee joint but worth each penny. Perfect for a once-in-a-while visit.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Real Taj of Restaurants

Dinner at Taj - always gives a plush, prestigious feel. Taj is still considered to be an expensive affair, meant only for the rich and glamorous. A meal at Taj may still be considered as an illustration of extravagant living. Well, it definitely is good to spoil oneself once in a while. In my case, it has started happening a little more than ‘once in a while’, though.

My love for food and the wide plethora of food offered at Taj is what pulls me there again and again. Any celebration has to be at Taj. Well, eating out without any reason also happens at Taj frequently. I hit Taj Gateway, Surat recently, on occasion of my birthday, and had a memorable meal.

DSC00162I started off my meal with the juice of the day called Fruit nectar. It was a mixed juice with heavy flavour of pineapple and passion fruit. I decided to head for salads, before taking the second helping of Fruit Nectar, as the salads looked very inviting. Cold Chicken and Fish salad, Pineapple and Mayonnaise salad, Bean salad, Brazilian Veg salad, Chicken Hawaiian salad could be had by adding salad dressings and oils like Rosemary oil, Basil oil and Thousand Island dressing. I could easily ignore the main course and go on with salads.

Before the main course, there were soups and pastas to try. Various types of plain and flavoured breads and croissants can be had with soups. The Chole-Aloo chat got me hooked on to it. I didn’t even want to leave out the 4 types of raitas and pickles there.

Pastas are made to order. You can ask for vegetarian or non-vegetarian pasta in sauce of your choice. We ordered for a veg pasta in red sauce (in the pic) and it was heavenly.

Though I am a non vegetarian food lover, I found the vegetarian dishes interesting. Vegetables in green Thai curry. Spicy Noodles, Mixed vegetables cooked in Avadhi style, Brinjals cooked in South Indian style were some of the dishes I couldn’t say No to. One of the up sides of Taj is that it caters to all kinds of tastes – Various national specialities, Asian and European. No wonder, you see Gujaratis, North Indians, Muslims, Japanese and Europeans regularly flocking into the place in good numbers.

Main course included fish in white sauce, Chicken in Sarso Saag, Lamb Masala, Hakka Noodles and Singaporean Noodles. I wish I could eat more. But I was already full and we were yet to attack the desserts.

Desserts. My favourite part of the buffet. Taj always offers around 10 variety of unique desserts during each buffet. This time they had Pineapple Crumble, Doodhi Halwa, Lemon Soufle (in the pic), Mango Blueberry Mousse (in the pic), Strawberry Burfi, Strawberry Swiss Pie, Rasgulla (my favourite), Kiwi Catalana (in the pic) and Chocolate Cheesecake.


I didn’t even know unique combinations such mango and blueberry make up such wonderful, yummy foods. My tummy were at the optimum level by this time and I could eat no more. Alas. All good things come to an end.

Taj Gateway is a spacious, peaceful, elegant place witnessed by the upper crust crowd of the city. A buffet at Taj means a getaway from the usual, daily humdrum and to rejuvenate. The staff is courteous and you are sure to have an undisturbed, balmy time here.

Buffet dinner costs Rs. 650 per head.

I am already waiting for the next occasion when I can celebrate at Taj.

The Mouthwatering Food of Surat

If you are a foodie and love Indian food, Surat should come on top of your list. Surat is known for things other than its flourishing diamond and textile industry too. The variety of the foodstuff here will amaze you. From Gujarati specialities to Bombay pav bhaji, Surat offers it all. Suratis are crazy foodies. Even if you are not an outdoor person, the enthusiasm and energy of Suratis will rub off on you.

Surat is essentially a vegetarian place. Here reside people who do not even consume eggs and then, there are the Jains, who do not consume anything with onions and garlics in it. There are very few restaurants offering non vegetarian food.

But Surati food preparation will make you non vegetarian lovers leave non veg aside for a while (believe me; I am saying it with experience). The yummy silk khaman, the buttery paranthas, cheesy sandwiches, the malai kulfis, the delectable ice golas, the adorable golgappas, the array of chats from Delhi and Rajasthan, the variety of handvos – I bet you won’t be able to select just one dish. You will be enticed to overeat!

Sunday rush at the popular chat place, GanghaurSurat offers some Surati specialities like Lochu (A paste made of gram flour and flavoured with garlic and other spices, served with Oil and coriander chutney). Try Lochu at Jani Farsan (Opp. Sargam Complex, Parle Point) and the variety of chats and kulfi at Gangor, God Dod road.

Saturday and Sunday are peak crowd days. No one stays at home on weekend evenings! People troupe out in huge groups– to eat, to socialize and to roam around generally. From the Kamrej Chowk (where the highway starts) till Magdalla (the other end of the city), each thela, ice ream parlour, dhaaba and restaurant is crowded, with people waiting outside for their turn. Surat is probably the only city, after Bombay probably, where people flock in even at 11:00 pm in restaurants.

Here exists a unique practice which I call ‘Footpath eateries’. I don’t think this system exists anywhere else in our country. On both sides of the Surat-Dumas road, in Piplod area, are lined with people sitting on footpaths and eating. The footpath is lined with several hawkers selling paranthas, pav bhaji, corn, sandwiches and frankies. The hawkers spread chatai in front of their thelas for their customers. If not, people just bring their own food DSC00157and have it there. I had never tried this before but wanted to experience it. And I did so recently; though on a weekday, when the crowd was scanty. And I assure you, you are going to love the experience of sitting on the wide footpath, the shiny lights of Iscon Mall, Big Bazaar and Chroma gleaming over you and cars zipping past. This is a strict don’t-miss if you are visiting Surat. You cannot leave from Surat without experiencing the footpath eateries.

You will find the hawkers to be gracious, cheerful and kind. They actually enjoy feeding people. One such paranthas hawker gave us an extra parantha by mistake and refused to charge us for it. Not only did we eat the extra parantha, we also paid him the full money. After all, his paranthas are to die for.

The foothpath attracts joint families (I needen’t mention joint families specially, because Suratis ALWAYS travel with their extended families) and college kids.

Suratis are generous, warm and energetic. There is a lot to learn from them. Visit these eateries, especially during the weekends, to see how Suratis enjoy. No one does it better than them!


263 kms from Bombay
255 kms from Ahmedabad
Regular trains run between Ahmedabad and Bombay, the 2 commercial capitals of 2 important states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Popular food rates:

Lochu (per plate) – Rs. 50
Parantha (per plate. Curd, chutney, pickle complimentary) – Rs. 40
Handvo (per plate) – Rs. 40-60
Malai Kulfi – Rs. 40
Chats (per plate) – Rs. 30 - 60