Yum Chaa – Fitzrovia – Review

Absolutely bored and craving a afternoon out ,a close friend and me decided to check out Yum chaa sometime early february. As soon as we walked my eyes fell on this beautiful and welcoming armchair – its the kind of chair that you can sink into and loose yourself in!

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Lucky for us it was in a quite little corner where we could pour our hearts out to each other!

The counter had a beautiful  display and she decided to have the Chilli Chilli Hot Chocolate. I was having a very difficult time trying to decide which tea to have from the amazing range available of Black and Red teas.

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I finally settled for a red tea and a little something to bite into….in the quite pauses between our excited chatter I gazed into my tea cup…wishing I could tell what the future has to hold simply by gazing at how the bright red tea sediments lay there… if only …

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Loved their quirky note asking for ‘Valentines Day Funds’ now who can refuse a tip when coaxed like that? (espp when it will be used to buy an Adele album!)

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The quirky christmas tree kept the corner with the shelves a bit festive and the white washed walls seemed to have a sublimia soothing effect. The general atmosphere of the place is the sort where you can settle into a huge armchair , armed with a tea of your choice and spend hours sipping it alone or not. Its the kind of place you would take a good book to and settle in with a warm pot of tea, allow the tea to percolate and loose yourself in the pages of your fav storyteller.

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We lost track of time and almost over two hours later when Yum Chaa got really  busy we decided to let someone else take over our cushy chairs…reluctantly almost, promising ourselves that we would be back soon , very soon…

The shabby chic,relaxed atmosphere , mis-matched furniture, white washed walls and their amazing range of teas on offer will stay with you long after you walk out of the place and of course their catchy crazy name Yum Chaa is something you won’t forget easily!

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Disclaimer: I’ve written this review of my own accord and was this visit was paid for by me. I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

 

A chilly afternoon,a tea Party and a good cause!

The sudden change in weather and cold afternoons call for multiple cups of tea  and nothing seems more apt than delicatley brewed spiced tea packed in tiny muslin pouches which mum gifted me.I love reading and sipping on this spiced tea in my new Polka blue tea cup courtesy Royal Albert Uk. It just makes me feel so very pampered and Queen like 🙂

It’s not often that one walks home from a pop up tea party after having a whale of a time with fellow foodies and posing with cute props,not to mention that this was to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Care. The pop pink goody bag and a Royal Albert tea cup and diary to take home just made this experience even more awesome.

At the #RATeaTour13 at London Spitalfields on the 7th of Sept, my fellow blogger buddies  Nisha of My Kitchen Antics,Suchi of Kitchen Karma and Vaishali who blogs at Of Cloves & Capers and I feasted on some pink fairy cakes and posed with bright pink furs for some pictures.

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a cuppa fit for a queen

Polka Blue tea cup

 

 

Do support this lovely cause, the tea tour will next be held on  on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th  at Parsons Green.

Irani Cafe Colony – An interview with the owner Agha and his daughters Bibi Sadat ,Bibi Fatehmehand son Mirza

Interview with Mr. Agha and his two daughters – owners  –  Cafe Colony – Hindu Colony,Dadar,Bombay.

Manjiri :

Ever since I moved back to Bombay after a few years in Pune and with Cafe Colony within walking distance, I wanted to meet Agha and have a heart to heart  chat with him. I soon became  a regular customer  as well as established a friendly rapport with  him and his daughters that calling this piece an interview is not apt. It’s just snippets of a long conversation over several cups of Irani Chai and  several  evenings. But it was only after I had moved to London and then on one of my unplanned visits to India that I got an opportunity to really get talking with Agha’s daughters, Agha himself was too busy but did let me come and click a dozen pictures, he never lets anyone do that so I guess my skills of persuasion worked! In fact there was so much more to catch up on even after my conversations with Aghas daughters, that I let Mrinal (who blogs at Retro-Reflections) catch up with  Agha after I came back to London after my visit to Bombay this May. I am so glad she managed to get him talking!

My earliest memories associated with Irani cafes are of eating giant omelettes with soft buns slathered in butter with my father  at a now nonexistent Irani cafe  opposite Dadar Station. This happened a few years in succession as we waited for my grandmothers train to arrive at the station, invariably delayed we confidently sat down to have breakfast at this quaint cafe instead of sweating it out on the platform. This Irani cafe  no longer exists and has long been replaced by an Udipi joint. The typical wooden chairs, the glass-topped wooden tables with a simple plastic ‘’tablecloth’’ and the trademark maska-pav dripping in butter was great fun to eat and I also got to feel all grown up and important by having a cup of tea to myself instead of the daily glass of milk!

Omlette at Cafe Colony Irani

A full spread - typical Irani anda pav breakfast with chai n maska pavAghas daughters are shy by nature and very simple too but standing behind that counter and ‘’manning’’ the post has taught them a lot. After being cheated and fleeced silly by a manager who they had for a short while, the girls decided to take over when Agha needed a break. The elder one started coming to the shop when she was 18 and her brother when he was even younger . Soon they learnt the ropes  of the working of the cafe. Mind you managing a shop in a city like Bombay is no mean feat. No one would know that better than me, after managing 9 supermarkets in Pune including lauching them. I got to see a bit of live ‘’action’’ when during my visit to Bombay in November’13 all shops were forcibly made to shutter down due to some political tension in the city and the girls very ably managed to safely shut shop and get themselves home. Believe it takes some major spunk to do this sort of stuff.I had to ask them if any other Irani cafes they know are now ‘’manned ‘’ by the women in the family , I was so happy to hear their reply, ”Light of Bharat” Irani cafe is at times managed by a lady and Crown Bakery has the Irani Parsi girls managing the show.My thoughts are interrupted by a customer who come to buy a few eggs and another person seeking change for a large amount is politely but firmly turned away ,atta girls!

”The Agha girls” as I shall call them here because I choose not to name them, I could but as they very kindly told me a few reasons why they wouldn’t want to be photographed , I genuinely think it’s a mark of respect to not use their names here either – they later changed their mind after ma in law convinced them that they should be PROUD that they stand alongside the men in the family their father Agha and brother Mirza and help run the cafe so efficiently, so the photos you will see in this post are old photographs they have kindly agreed to share with aai and me.

It seemed apt to munch on some mawa cake and down it with tea at this juncture,always a good way to keep the conversation going.

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Moving to Surat in India one of the reasons for migration was the growing discomfort between Irani Muslims and Irani Parsis they tell me.The elder of the two sisters started helping out her father at the shop when she was 18. Labour issues, staff theft and skyrocketing taxes, the girls have seen a lot.The LBT strike are happening on and off in India during this period (April 2013) and sugar and dal stocks are badly affected. Imagine an irani cafe that can’t serve tea they say …shudder shudder…

Someone has ordered a plate of dal rice, the common mans daily meal in India and supremely satisfying as a comfort food.

dal-rice plate

The girls recount that biryani was added onto the menu much later and even today Irani cafes continue to serve authentic rice and kheema in-spite of mutton getting more expensive each passing day.

Increasing taxes,expensive ingredients, political turmoil, staff issues are just some of the many daily challenges the surviving Irani cafes face, many have shit shop, yet others have renovated to keep in step modern and risked loosing the old world charm and so many others are on the brink of extinction as future generations have migrated or chosen other professions. But the elder of the Agha girls remembers the 1992 communal riots vividly and how the locals came to their rescue and they agree Bombay is home and the Cafe is their only means of livelihood, and they wouldn’t trade what they have for anything in the world. I heave a silent sigh of relief …

A consignment of sweets from Iran has arrived and I get to to inspect the package,photograph it before it goes into the freezer, all this is done with a great amount of fanfare and Mrinal and me have managed to attract a small amount of giggly kids outside the store. One bold but very cute kid one comes and tugs at my shirt ,”tumhi reporter aahe? newspaper madhe photo yenar? majha ghya na” – Marathi for ”you a reporter?wil these photographs be printed in tomorrows newspaper?please click a picture of me” ! 🙂

Gaz is nothing but Persian for nougat originating from the city of Esfahan and Boldaji, located in the central plateau of Iran. The same nougat is also made in Iraq where it is known as Mann al-Sama

Irani sweets

The Cafe’ was now getting very busy and lots of customers were approaching the counter, business as usual….

Busy Times ahead

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In the ‘’interview’’ with Agha below Mrinal takes a walk down memory lane with, of course with rather distractedly tempting photographs in between the paragraphs.

Mrinal – (blogs at Retro-Reflections)

It was after a great deal of persuasion that Mr.Agha of Cafe Colony, Dadar agreed to talk to me putting his busy schedule on hold.  He was apprehensive at first   but once he got into the mood there was nothing to stop his enthusiasm talking about his experiences in running of the cafe. But first, my association with Agha’s extended family (when there were several partners in the business) goes way back to the sixties and the early seventies when Cafe Colony was run by Mr Mohammad. He was a jolly young man who lived close by with his wife and two cherubic children, little Mohammad and Fasila. I remember them constantly running in and out of the shop and making a terrific ruckus to get attention whenever their father sat on the counter. Many a times these children were invited   to our house  for goodies they had never had and they came most willingly  and also  out of curiosity.Cafe Colony at the time was a small cafe with very little to offer.  My memory is quite  hazy but as the years went by it began to expand gradually offering a wide range of items and a buzzing place , a hub where all  gathered .I learnt later Mohammad and his family left.

Agha fav pose

Several of Agha’s family was involved with the running of the cafe till Agha himself took over.Like other Irani families, his  family too migrated and came via Surat. The cafe opened in 1933. Since then it has steadily and surely catered to hundreds of residents living in Hindu Colony and around it. There were other Irani joints nearby —–Yezdaan, round the Dadar T.T corner now where Metro Shoe shop stands. Point out  Agha’s daughters , ‘on a clear day one can see the etching of the name Cafe Yezdaan on top of Metro shoe shop ,if you are tall enough) and Cafe Premier near Dadar station. Both these have closed down now. But Cafe Colony still survives despite all odds.

Cafe Colony entrance

Says Agha . those days  it was easier to man the cafe . Raw stock was easily available and labour was cheap. Even the effect of the LBT affected items like sugar, flour and dal. These are the things one has to grapple with.The ‘irani Boys’ who waited at the tables were loyal and honest  and did all the odd jobs. I remember there was personalised service if one was staying nearby.  They used to personally deliver eggs bread and other items.People were friendly and the crowd was motley. We even had a juke box and a weighing machine.Many residents from Parsee colony too would come to the cafe and enjoy the music and sit around till late. But soon all this disappeared as the suburb began to grow and old structures gave way to new ones .The footpath in front of Cafe Colony widened as traffic increased on the Tilak Bridge. Cafe Colony was no longer the same where one could sit quietly and enjoy a cup of chai without the blaring of horns. But with it the cafe too began to expand and many more things were added to the cafe besides bakery products and tea accompaniments.Nearer to Cafe Colony (two shops away) Agha’s family purchased another corner shop called Bakery and Candy Store, which did a brisk business for a short period but ran into a considerable loss and was sold off. But Cafe Colony soldiered on.

Agha loved posing for us!

Any political issue resulting in a strike  or  (since the area came  under  a party’s stronghold) shops would  down their shutters but not Aghas Cafe . In fact people used to collect there for major discussions and endless cups of chai would be supplied just to keep the bonhomie going. His daughters recall how the colony people protected them and their shop during the communal riots  and they are more than grateful till today. However, it was sad Candy Corner bore the brunt  and was vandalised . On 26th July 2006, when Bombay was under water Cafe Colony was open all night despite no lights and was offering customers whatever was available as well as refuge.

The tiny army at Cafe Colony

Other highlights in the life of Cafe Colony are when Ramdas Athavale (political figure ) visited the cafe and it catered for his entire security guards  about thirty to forty of them. Another time when Agha himself prepared Biryani for Dr Ambedkar’s grandson.

Today all that has changed and the struggle goes on . The Irani boys keep changing and one has to keep a hawk eye on them. Very often I see Agha himself in the kitchen giving a helping hand, just rustling up a quick breakfast or giving finishing touch to the Biryani on a Sunday morning or taking the delivery of the meat from the butcher . The delicious mutton and chicken patties which earlier were available any time at the counter now need to be ordered beforehand.  Although his own supply of almonds pistachios figs Turkish delight Irani jars and occasionally a lovely carpet may be on sale. The versatality of the shop is just amazing!

Turkish Delights

Unlike other Irani cafes around Bombay whose owners are apprehensive about the second generation manning the cafe cum restaurant, Agha’s cafe is currently in the safe zone as his son and daughters give him that support he desperately needs to keep it going. The future according to him is uncertain. But what of the good old residents of the Colony for whom Cafe Colony has been a landmark . A closure of this iconic place would surely herald protests of all kinds .

The old timers meet here everydayIt's a struggle to survive and this bun maska is at stake...

The next post in this 3 part series will take you to an Irani Cafe London….coming soon!

Cheers,

Mrinal (who blogs at Retro-Reflections) and Manjiri

References:

Wikipedia

13th Sept’13 – Friday

Mrinal and me were so happy to receive an email from Bibi Fatemeh who is Agha’s younger daughter.She has very generously and proudly agreed to share their names and their photographs taken while they are at the counter.I cannot express my joy and pride at how much this means to both Mrinal and me. Bibi Fatemeh  has been very generous in her praise about this article:

”It was pleasure reading about our interview and seeing pictures of Cafe Colony. A real proud moment for us. We all liked to whatever you & Mrinal has written. All the credit goes to my Dad for the struggle & all the hard work he has put in till date.”

Thanks Bibi Fatemeh, we too are very proud of your Dad and we can only say one thing ”LONG LIVE CAFE COLONY”

Bibi- Fatemeh has shared a picture of her at the Cafe Colony where she and her elder sister Bibi Sadat proudly manage the counter.Bibi Sadat’s picture will follow soon enough.

(What I love about Bibi Fatehmeh’s photo below is the beautiful and confident smile and the huge stack of eggs behind her that sell off quickly as they are sold at the wholesale rate, a respite form the other crazy expensive retail rates! Another feather in the cap for Cafe’ Colony!)

Bibi Fatehmeh

Watch this space for Bibi Sadat’s photograph – up soon!

Ok Folks!Bibi Sadets picture is here!And a lovely photograph of Agha with both the lovely girls.

Bibi sadat

 

Agha and daughters at the shop

Last but certainly not the least is Bibi Fatehmeh with her brother Mirza.

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Irani Bakeries Still Soldiering On

Guest Post by Mrinal Kulkarni who blogs at Retro-Reflections.

Since childhood bakeries have held a special fascination.The exotic and delicious goodies displayed in the glass counters and shelves often led me to press my face against its glass  to peer even more closely.Not to mention the whiff and aroma of freshly baked bread and rolls further tantalizing the pallette. To own a bakery then became a childhood  dream.Though I knew that could never be, visiting one was on my daily agenda .

Living in colonial cities like  Bombay,Coonoor, Wellington, Madras and up  north  in the hills of Musoorie and Shimla through the 50’s,60’s and the 70’s saw a plethora of bakeries almost around every street corner.Each one having  a special quality of its own.

Finally settling down in Bombay and  during my growing years I  perceived bakeries in a different light.Living in a suburb,the area was practically surrounded by at least five to six  bakeries.But these bakeries were different with cafes attached.They belonged to the Iranis who did a brisk business throughout the day and late into the night. Their  method of working, the fare they offered, the ambiance that was created around them made it so popular especially the simplicity sans any  frills. Some of these bakeries had  two sections – a  variety of breads—pau, whole sliced  bread,bun and  brun pau and  bakery products like mawa cakes,cream rolls and the other section was a tea space  with grayish white marble-topped square tables and black chairs against a backdrop of dark brown glass cupboards stacked with different utilities like groceries (the range which expanded over the years). The walls were often adorned with pictures of old Bombay or English countryside. These small joints  eventually began to be known as cafes.These  small  café spaces or little tea and cake joints were in existence for a long time. They excluded an old world charm.Daily samplings soon became a regular  feature for  tongue tickling treats and a place easily accessible and affordable for all.The goodies were not eye-catching nor were they colourful but tasty and tantalizing.The entire aura around these little cafés  was alive and buzzing  which attracted attention of any passerby.The high-and  low-pitched voices of the Irani owner giving orders, the chatter of the Irani errand boys executing  the orders, the clatter of crockery and a general bonhomie that went with it was just as alluring and endearing as to what they were serving.Whiffs and aromas of all kinds made you want to sit around (literally in a no-time bound frame of mind) soaking in the milieu and drinking endless cups of sweet mana——the Irani  chai.

The bakeries were owned by Iranis who  migrated to India,from Iran  to Surat,a flourishing commercial city on the west coast of India, in search of some lucrative  enterprise.They came to India in the late 19th century.Most of them who migrated were not well versed in the literary sense  but possessed astute business sense  and were  proficient  in the business of baking – as  this was their traditional business and the only enterprise they understood.Soon they set up Irani cafes all over the city which  became synonymous with the city’s landscape. A unique feature of an Irani café was that many of them were situated at corner of the street.It is believed they acquired these corner spaces as the Hindu shop-owners were superstitious about setting their own shops there as they felt it would not prosper.

As mentioned earlier one could, or rather one wanted to  linger on in the café for hours.It served as a meeting  place for some,an appropriate setting for both serious political and social discussion for others and leisurely conversation for all and sundry.This space cut across all classes and community.The sweet and delicious hot cuppa-dunked with the typical Irani khari (a buttery and subtly flavoured light flaky biscuit which almost disintegrated  before you could put your mouth to it) was and still is to die for….

The word “Irani” conjures images of old-fashioned  bakeries,wine shops, restaurants and its delicious fare with their typical names——the ubiquitous maska pau (thick yellow butter slathered on a small round of fresh bread, the pau,the origin which dates back to the time of the Portuguese who first introduced this now hugely popular bread in India, particularly Bombay.These cafes, bakeries and restaurants have evolved over the years, introducing several other items on their menu. Khari chai and bhurji, mawa cakes to name a few. At one time almost half the Irani population in the metropolis was  involved in  running of these enterprises (a tradition dating back to almost 100 years) which at one time thrived but now facing stiff competition from modern type of bakeries and deli.The famous Irani bakeries which were one of the famous landmarks of Bombay and visible at strategic corners in most suburbs are practically non-existent except for a few which are trying to be a bit more aggressive  to compete with the modern cafes. However,today the baking process too has changed — all traditional breads baked in wood fire ovens have been replaced with modern energy efficient ovens.

This article besides highlighting their popularity  takes a look at the  plight of the existing bakeries which still occupy certain pockets of the city and are still popular among young and the old who still want their usual fare of  brun maska or khari and chai to drink at leisure and watch the world go by.

What makes these Irani bakeries tick? Obviously its mouth-watering fare – the brun maska (a hard round bun which is oh so soft inside  which when you cut when hot and slather blobs of  butter and dip it in tea is sure to leave a slick of melted butter on the surface –that’s the way its supposed to be eaten. Have it with kheema(minced meat),scrambled eggs with green chillies onions and tomato (akoori) or plain fruit jam , it delicious all the same.Each café puts up its own menu of the day but brun maska, mawa cakes and khari are  constant.

The bread making process  in Iran goes a long way back.Even before the  Iranis migrated to the city of dreams, bread making  in Iran was a traditional process; bread was prepared and baked at home in special ovens.The practice is still carried out in most villages.Each bakery specializes in a special kind of bread and they do not bake other kinds of bread simultaneously. Irani breads are of a wide variety. Barbari  made of white flour is thick and popular among the Turkish people . It is a specially type of leavened bread that seems to have been introduced in Iran fairly recently like the  European style bread. It  is  a long  narrow loaf about 2 to 3 ft long  inch thick and 2-3 ft long and 8-12” wide. It is separated before baking to give it an added crispness and is sprinkled with sesame seeds. It needs to be eaten soon after baking as it becomes stale quickly and is often used as breakfast bread.  La vash made of white flour is thin and several lavash are enough for one person, is of Armenian origin. Sangak is also thin but made from brown flour. It gets its name from the process of baking it on a bed of heated pebbles instead of the wall of the oven , which gives bread a very crisp and irregularly surfaced texture.

Barbari Bread

Image – Courtesy Iranian.com – Barbari bread

La Vash

Image -credit Wiki – La Vash Bread

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Image credit Wiki – La Vash bread stacks

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Image credit Wiki – Sangak

Sangak_bakery

Image credit Wiki – Sangak goes into a hot oven

Taftoon or Taftun is made from white flour and is thin but oval in shape.Taftoon and La vash  are baked thin against the wall of the oven and differ primarily in the type of wheat (whole wheat or white) is used to make them.

La vash is very soft. In rural areas many families bake their own bread on a weekly basis and produce a hard La vash which is softened at the time of use by sprinkling a little water on it.

Naan In Iran is a kind of flat bread which is brought directly from the bakers who are called naanva i.e. a naan baker.

Acorn bread was made in ancient Iran. A small bread oven and the remains of acorns were discovered by archaeologists in Iran to conclude that ancient Iranis did bake bread using acorn flour, over 3000 years ago.The Ayapir cultural heritage team found almost 40 kinds of plants species at the ancient site of Izeh in Khuzestan Province, Iran , a dig carried out prior to the rising waters of the reservoir of Karun 3 dam.

To quote Hajir Kiani, the head of the team, “the acorns’ resistance to the elements made it an important foodstuff for the local people. Different parts of the oak tree such as fruits and leaves were used as food and medicinal purposes . The tools found in the mountains when compared to tools found in the present day nomads of the region prove that the baking method  has been almost the same for the past 3000 years.

The Bakhtiari nomads who currently live in the region grinding acorns with a grindstone, then put it inside a basket made of thin branches of the almond tree and put the basket in the stream for about a week. This helped to remove the bitter taste of the acorns.The acorns expand and gradually turn into dough within a week. The only thing to do is to pick up a handful of dough , knead it well and put it on the fire to bake”.

Religiously speaking, bread is treated with so much respect among the Iranians. Muslims are taught to avoid dropping bread on the floor or under feet or dumping it in a disrespectful place.Unused bread is used as feed for birds.

The type and quantity of bread found in the Iranian meals can to some extent be understood as an artifact of traditional dinning habits. During earlier times , the custom was to sit on the floor , a large cloth called sofrah would be spread out and the bowls and platters containing the various dishes put on it. Formerly, there were no plates and cutlery instead thin sheets of flat bread served as plates and for eating from utensils or for  scooping  up morsels of food. The art of fine dinning and etiquette was absent. It was only  under European influence ,use of tables and chairs forks and spoons became common especially in urban areas. These have been described in detail by European travelers who came to Iran.

Grain crops such as wheat and barley are well-suited for cultivation in the arable areas of the Iranian plateau and have been growing there since ancient times . Wheat was used to make a variety of breads that form part of the daily diet. In towns and cities , it is customary to buy bread freshly made from one of the many neighbourhood artisanal bakeries. That is why bakeries cook their bread three times a day, early morning, noon and in the evening . Scenes of crowded bakeries at this time is very common. Since most of the people come to buy bread at the same time, bakeries have long queues at rush hours and families prefer to send male members especially teenagers to buy bread.

 Iranian cafes and bakeries started by the Iranian immigrants in the 19th century  provided cheap food and good company in a leisurely setting.

After coming to India, the Irani bakeries modified their typical Irani bread to suit the taste buds of the Indians as well as specialize in a whole range of eats from garlic bread, shrewsberry biscuits, mawa cakes and to the bun maska and brun maska fare ( a bun or crusty bread sliced horizontally and generously slathered with butter dunked in paani kum chai (strong milky tea) which is usually eaten in the bakery itself  either standing near the entrance or some bakeries do provide for a small tea space where a few chairs and tables are laid . This is usually a quick fare which is satisfying and wholesome.Those cafes with ample  space provide full meals of  akoori on toast ,chicken/mutton patties, kheema pao, lagaan nu custard, falooda (chilled milk with rose syrup, vermicelli and basil seeds).

Honest to a fault the Iranis believe in offering good value for money but have lost ground in the bakery business due to the northerners taking over bakery business.Today the bread is baked elsewhere and through contract.The owners are totally dependent on the delivery.

Living near a Irani café,I  have had several opportunities to meet the owners and understand their problems and methods of survival. It has been a fascinating journey for them when they set out but a hard struggle now and yet they are popular. Often Sunday morning with its  special menu like kheema rice and mutton biryani, long queues are seen.Is this a sign of survival  if so how many more years. The second and third generation of owners certainly do not want to be behind counters.They want to explore the whole wide world  like their counterparts. Will they succeed or come right back into the business,one doesn’t know.

Interview with some Irani owners just might reveal  whats on their mind. So look out for the next read on the Irani cafes and their owners.

 Mrinal blogs at retro-reflections.

 

Baked Courgette Chips – Guilt Free Snack ready in 20 minutes!

I often crave to munch on something like most of us do and just munching on something so different and bursting with flavour is satiating.

Plus there’s a lot less guilt munching on something that’s baked rather than deep fried right?? Well, ahem ! This recipe was adapted from here.

What I love most about this is that it’s done quickly, give it  prep time 5 min, cook time 15 mins and ready in 20 minutes! What more can one ask for, just get that oven fired up people!

So here’s what you will need :

  1. 2 medium sized courgettes
  2. 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  3. 100gm golden breadcrumbs
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. Smoked Sea Salt
  6. Ground black pepper
  7. Half tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  8. A drop of olive oil to grease the foil

Method:

  • Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, smoked sea salt – mine is Oak smoked Anglesey sea salt, it really packs a punch, the ground black pepper,italian herb mix, in a bowl and mix well. Get the egg white in another small bowl. Slice the courgettes real fine and dip them first in the egg white and then into the  bread crumb mix.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with foil and bake each side for 5 minutes in a pre heated oven at 240 degree Celcius / Gas Mark 9.

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I gobbled them with a cup of hot sweet and spiced up Indian Chai, perfect for a summer afternoon when all you want to do is read that ”unputdownable” book, it’s Dan Brown’s Inferno, whats on your reading list?

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I am guest hosting In My Veg Box again this year in March 2015 on my blog, an event run by Vegetarian food blogger Nayna Kanabar of Citrus Spice UK and the theme this month is Courgettes. Just added in my favourite Baked  Courgette ‘chips’  recipe to the linky.

Would love to see all your lovely creations with Courgettes, do link up, all details on how to link up are available on my post here.

In my veg box  courgettes event logo

”POSH ”Victoria Sponge Cake

What better way to celebrate the excitement surrounding the Olympics happening in London than sinking my teeth into a perfectly delicious soft Victoria Sponge Cake !

It’s an easy recipe and the result left me feeling like so very happy !

I tried to read up online why it is called a ”Victoria” Sponge cake and the apt answer seems that since Queen Victoria loved this soft cake with her afternoon tea ! So I am going to savour the cake and afternoon tea as I cheer myself hoarse in front of the telly whilst watching the Olympics 🙂

Lovely! So let’s get baking and when your done gobbling some of it , drop me a line and let me know how much you enjoyed creating this yummy delight !

This cake serves 8 people, takes about an hour to prepare.

I choose to call it ”POSH” because that’s Victoria Beckham’s pop name,our very own British star and this cake is modernised version of a British Classic recipe with a twist as it is layered with Creme Chantilly’ – very posh sounding indeed !

Ingredients:

  1. 225 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  2. 4 Medium sized eggs, organic if you please
  3. 225 g caster sugar
  4. 225 g self-raising flour
  5. 4- 5 Large tablespoons of Strawberry Jam , the traditional version uses raspberry Jam, I used strawberry conserve.
  6. 250 gm fresh strawberries sliced lengthways
  7. Icing Sugar for dusting on top of the cake
  8. Soda Bicarbonate – 1 teaspoon
  9. Baking Powder 1 Teaspoon

To make the  crème Chantilly:

  1. 300 ml double cream – so sinful 😉
  2. 25 g icing sugar
  3. I tiny cap full of Vanilla essence , the original recipe inspired by The Good Food Channel advises to use – 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways and seeds scraped or vanilla extract- Please click on the hyperlink to see the original recipe on The Good Food Channel website !

METHOD :

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 18cm cake  tins with a removable based with baking paper.I inauguarted my brand new weighing scales and cute cake tins I purchased for all future cake making experiments !
  2. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream well until light and fluffy – this will take at least 10 minutes to get it properly aerated.Use the 10 minutes you have to wash and clean the strawberries and slice them lengthwise.This was also a first for me in terms of using my food processor to mix the butter and sugar mix.Then empty this butter sugar mix into a large mixing bowl , I also have a NEW nice bright Orange bowl !
  3. Break each egg and add one at a time , whisk the mixture  well after each addition to ensure its soft and fluffy.
  4. Add the self-raising flour to the above butter ,sugar and egg mixtures , I added one spoon at a times and mixed it really well each time . Add the Bicarbonate of soda and Baking Powder to this mixture , I used this as I do in every cake but the original good food channel recipe does not mention these 2 ingredients.Later I used a hand blender to really get this mixture feel like one entity and till it felt right to pour into the ready cake tins .
  5. Now pour the above cake mix in equal portions into the  2 cake tins and smooth the top with a plastic spoon, the type you get with a food processor.
  6. Bake for 20 minute,with a timer , until risen and golden. Ensure you do not go over the 20 minutes,also if you are using a fan oven like I do , use only the setting that heats from below.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the baking pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the crème Chantilly:

  1. Put the cream in the food processor , add the icing sugar and  the vanilla essence. Whip to the soft peak stage, using the slow speed setting  then refrigerate until slightly firmed.
  2. Take the strawberry jam into a small pan and warm gently whilst stirring ,use low flame and do not leave on pan for tool long.
  3. Remove the cakes from the cake tin , on the top of one cake spread the jam from the pan and add the chopped strawberries .
  4. Then get the Creme Chantilly’ from the fridge and spread generously over this.
  5. Place the second cake on this and press down ever so gently .
  6. Dust the top of this lovely sponge cake with a bit of icing sugar and decorate with a blob of the Creme Chantilly’ and some sliced strawberries !

Voila , the classic British cake with a twist – Posh Victoria Sponge is ready for you to savour, impress your family and friends and enjoy baking over and over again !

The above recipe is now part of an exciting link up with Delicious Dish Tuesday , to find out more please click on the link below- please copy and paste the below URL into your browser window,also look for the ”Delicious Dish Tuesday”Badge on this blog 🙂

http://www.mamachocolateblog.com/delicious-dish-tuesday-recipe-link-up-23.html

 

Expensive Newsprint in the western World

Ever since I set foot in London a year and few months  ago, I have moaned and moaned about expensive newspapers are . I was addicted to reading quite a few as my mother in law who was started her career as a Journalist with the a leading newspaper, gets like at least 4 newspapers everyday delivered at home sigh… what luxury !

Considering that I have been out of work as in a full-time job has eluded me , I do feel that grabbing the free newspapers available twice a day at bigger rail and tube stations is a way I can get my hand son newsprint for free and have the pleasure of sitting on an easy chair in th evening ,with a cup of hot Indian Ginger tea in one hand and a crisp newspaper in the other ,FREE newspaper albeit and pretend to be 60 and discuss the day’s news with my imaginary set of 4  foggies while we sit on a very green lawn ,again imaginary and puff (again imaginary) on expensive cigars . Ahh the good old days when this could actually be made into a reality !

Sighhhh ….I can’t wait to turn into an old fossil , retire, crib about pensions, play with my grandchildren , walk around with a mop of grey silver shiny hair on my head and greet all and sundry with a nod and get fussed over (hopefully) by a son or a daughter or if I am lucky both …

humm coming back to my topic of discussion , the sky rocketing rates of newsprint . A friend of mine who is a sensible bloke like , except that he is geek 😉 asked me to enjoy the modern day pleasures of reading online news , yes I am a FAN ,absolute fan of news blogs , free ones of course – agin the key word being FREE! , I read many of which The Huffington Post is very close to my heart , makes me think of a stout teapot on a bright sunny afternoon and me again on my imaginary lawn puffing a cigar and sipping unlimited cups of tea of course all this while READING a newspaper on an i-pad 🙂

But at 650£ pounds for a 64GB and a bit more extra for a white one at that , I am sick of BLACK for now ,I cannot afford one , by the time I will be able to afford one I guess version 10 maybe available ….such is my confidence right now of landing a decent paying full-time job in these recessionary times. And people ask me why I have turned into a serious ,thinking creature and lost all my youth ,vitality and cheerful candour ! It is the recession to blame of course !

Anyway, I have a life to attend to now and hence must stop rambling and get back to hunting for a job so that some day I can actually have a house with a lawn , be able to afford not just a newspaper (!) and a 64GB Apple i-pad as well .

Amen !

Oh India I miss your COLOURS SIGHTS SOUNDS and smells ..well almost all of them;)

One of the things I miss most about my life in India is the COLOUR, the colours of daily clothing for example worn by women even in the most modern of cities as it collides with the Sauvé greys and blacks of the suits that walk around. I sorely miss wearing Indian clothes and my favourite glass bangles. Moreover the whole thing where we have colour as part of our home decor is also something I really miss. I have taken a vow that each time I visit India next I shall surely buy some key pieces for placing in my flat to give it a distinctive Indian flavour, the more vibrant colourful and hard to get the object the higher will be its place of importance in my heart and home .

There are these times I miss all that I did like the zillion times I would walk into FAB INDIA with A OR P or just saunter in by myself and ogle at the lovely fabrics and the salivate over the chunky jewellery I especially love their short kurtis (tunics) and silver earrings . I love FAB INDIA clothes and mix matching them with different pieces to wear.

Long back this close pal of mine, S, told me about this blog called Rang Decor , it’s a splash of very beautiful photographs of extremely well done up homes and also awesome places , the most recent post about Kutch and how art is literally everywhere sitting silently amongst very obvious harsh weather and stark poverty is quite a lovely post to SEE , read ,feel and think !

http://rangdecor.blogspot.com/

Such are the ways I amuse myself when I feel the “I miss INDIA” Nostalgia pangs coming along .This is followed by a session of listening to old Bollywood songs on you tube , browsing through photographs of close family and friends for the millionth time and then looking outside to see an almost empty street save for the occasional bus that zips past and some cars . How I miss the sights and sounds of Bombay and Pune. I progress to making a cup of hot tea for myself and start listening to some golden oldies from the Kishore Kumar era ! Sighhh Lifeee …..