We were watching the re run of the movie, Shah Rukh Khan with his two leading ladies Kajol and Rani. ‘The movie is aptly named,’ I comment after the last scene, ‘something happens even after the movie is over. My emotions are still hip hopping like crazy.’ Joe smiles enigmatically. I guess by now he has understood the high and low points of his wife.
‘Lets eat,’ he suggests. If there is any kuch kuch hota hai in his life is when his stomach is tended too. I still wonder how he keeps so trim. Just have to look at food and the calories start mounting for me. So to keep the man in my life happy I decided to pamper his taste buds to a meal at a very popular Indian restaurant in the very heart of Panjim….Mirch Masala at Fidalgo.
We meet with Mr Sunil Kapoor head of the Food & Beverage Services who has been in this line for over 22 years and Chef Pankaj who epitomizes the picture of a true chef at work. While the chit chat was progressing I could see Joe’s impatience mounting. Men!! Give them a drink in their hands and they will not bother about food even if it is going cold on the table, but if there is a slight delay in the service from the kitchen to the table, then their hunger pangs start moving in overdrive.
Anyway my job is to get the best items from the chef’s repertoire for our readers. I had taken one look at the attractively presented menu and was tempted to order everything…. the power of Advertising.
Now their presentation if not like that of the regular Indian restaurants…it is a la fusion. Rice, boiled vegetables, potatoes are dressed alongside the food. And so with camera in hand I stood waiting to click those delicacies to capture the essence of the creativity. By chance I cast a quick look in the direction of my spouse as I fiddled with the positioning of the food. My dog Mojo normally has this expression when I say ‘mojo stay!’ as I temptingly place a bone in front of him. The look was so familiar that I wondered if I had said ‘Joe stay!’ aloud. Perhaps I did cause both Sunil and Chef Pankaj looked at me. ‘I am ready for the snap,’ I sheepishly commented.
Anyway, Chef had suggested for starters…Paneer Tikka Assorted, and Murg Tikka Hara Bara. The chicken was marinated in yoghurt, spices with the subtle flavoring of fenugreek, mint and coriander. Soft succulent the green spice coated preparation was a delight to the senses, while the Paneer is an assortment of masalas…red, saffron and green…soft and melting. Delight to the gastric juices. No chewing or biting or gnashing of the molars required for the job. Love at first bite! Sounds like something out of a Dracula movie….but oh so true.
The main course Chef had recommended was to let us understand the diversity of the preparations available at his restaurant. Bhape Chingre from the land of Mamta Banerjee…sorry West Bengal. I have been watching the news so avidly these days. Murg Mashooq! Not that sounds so Lebaneseee… perhaps the dish originated some time in that area before reaching North India and onto the table of the Nawabs, and their very own Gosht biryani...a favorite of Joe’s.
As mentioned earlier the presentation was unique, the rich aromas mingled with each other to create a medley of electrifying sensations…just by looking, smelling…and we had not even begun the tasting. ‘Kuch Kuch Hota hai,’ Joe murmurs under his breathe. The waiters took pity on him and began heaping food onto the plate. I use the word heaping, because the portions were so big. This really is a family restaurant.
There was pin drop silence as the food on the plate diminished. The mutton was succulent, the gravy of ‘Mamta’s’ sorry Bhape Chingre was fresh and mustardy which left a delightful feeling with the rice, and the chicken? No wonder the Nawab’s loved this dish. Maybe Chef Pankaj learned the art from those kitchens.
After such a lovely fulfilling meal I had mentally prepared myself to reject any thought of dessert. But the offer of Phallon ki kulfi was tempting. You see they offer a variety of those kulfi’s…kesar, malai, mango...the choice is yours. I decided to have all three. ‘Greedy,’ Joe hisses. ‘Just sampling for the readers,’ I hiss back a smile on my face. For those watching from afar it would seem that we were mouthing sweet nothings at each other. But when it comes to dessert, Joe can be quite a stick in the mud. He never says anything when the food comes on the table so why does he behave like this when the desserts arrive? That is something to think about.
Anyway…the flavours especially the mango put us both back on track. One does not need Karan Johar to create a kuch kuch hota hai…believe me it can happen after a great meal at Mirch Masala.
Restaurant Mirch Masala (Indian)
18th June Road, Panjim