The Tasting Room, Lower Parel, Mumbai

Hungry customers stretching their necks out like turtles, eager to be allotted a place. Every small, medium, large table occupied. Hip youngsters larking around pitcher laden tables. Families lunching in quiet. Waiters scurrying with loaded trays.
This is a constant racket at The Tasting Room, an upscale restaurant nestled in the famous Raghuvanshi Mills Compound of Lower Parel. It sits peacefully on the first floor above Good Earth, a place for great interiors shopping.

I love the wooden staircase that climbs up to knock the door and let us in. Dont let this humble door fool you.
EntranceIt opens to this…
Walk in straight from here and you’ll enter their in-house boutique for some ethnic cotton-wear shopping.
The Tasting Room - Entrance
Ambience: A chandelier here, a chandelier there and a rustic vibe everywhere. They gleam happily at you; with price tags attached. Wonder if they were for sale.
The ambience of an old run down mill has been retained – stoned floors, tall ceilings, et al. Kitschy decor, rustic book shelves, vintage wall murals all add to the beauty. People across ages and nationalities are seen lounging for hours.
The Tasting Room - Interiors
Seating: With huge floor space inside and in the veranda, you wont have to wait too long. Variety of themes are beautifully incorporated for interiors. Corner couches, wooden benches, bar chairs, wing chairs seamlessly blend into each other. Tables suit all sizes of groups – from couples to a group of 10. Business lunches and dinners are hosted here too.
The Tasting Room - Seating
Menu: Beautiful juxtaposition of modern European and exotic Italian cuisines.  A smorgasbord of sandwiches and salads, array of coffees, assortment of teas, a bevy of desserts…. you name it and guess, they have it.  You’ll have your eyeballs rolling all over.
What more, there’s also a Kids Menu for your tiny ones.
Be gladly befuddled by their exquisite and exhaustive menu for wines, many from the much acclaimed Sula vineyards. Guess that’s suggestive of their name 🙂

The Beer Batter Prawns in Tartare Sauce were cooked to perfection.
The Tasting Room - Beer batter prawns
We loved the Smoked Chicken and Mushroom Sandwich with Garlic Aioli.
The Tasting Room - Sandwich
The Wild Dried Mushroom Risotto was just about okay. A sizable portion too.
The Tasting Room - Rissotto
We washed these down with an Orange Blossom, a tangy cooler with mint and peach syrup and a glass of Edmara Pinot Noir.
The Tasting Room - Orange Cooler
Service: Although you are attended to quickly, the order takes time from kitchen to the table. Considering the number of patrons they serve, its okay to ignore.
If you are lost hovering, pondering and flipping over the menu, don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for suggestions. He’ll gladly oblige.

My Say: Food is delectable. Full marks (plus few extra) for the inviting ambience. Service is great.
Negatives could be the price. 2 to 3 grands easily for a meal of two.
Its tad difficult to locate for a first-timer. They could place couple of signboards to make the place easy to locate.

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Vanilla Strawberry Marble Cake In Cooker

“What” and “If” are two simple words which when put together can have an immensely powerful impact. “What if…”
I used to be petrified with the slightest thought of baking in a pressure cooker. What if the cooker bursts!!! I’d witnessed this horrifying incident with my aunt when I was a little kid. The cooker went woossshh and off went the rice flying to the roof leaving her burnt and my mind, bruised for life. Until last week when I finally decided to kill this fear.
I said to myself what if it doesn’t. What if I bake a real good cake. And so I did.
A simple Strawberry – Vanilla sponge was great to start off with. Doesn’t that look yummm…
Cooker Cake 2
Get Prepared With Your Cooker:
1. Use a cooker with a wider circumference and capacity of 3 – 5 litres, right enough to fit a 21 cm round bottom cake tin. Its advisable to use an aluminium cooker than a non-stick one.
2. Remove the gasket (The rubber ring inside of the cover) *****
3. Take the whistle off *****
4. Place a utensil stand inside the cooker. A stand with holes does a great job in distributing the heat evenly. Else, use a thick plate or a griddle. Intention is not to let the base of the cake tin touch the base of the cooker. It also acts as insulator and prevents the cake from burning *****
5. Do not pour water *****
We want to bake the cake and not steam it. There has to be an oven-like environment, which is why no water.
6. The cooker has to be pre-heated, the way we pre-heat the oven.
7. Close the lid and place the cooker (without gasket, without whistle, without water) first on high heat for 3 minutes and then on low for 2 minutes.

Get Prepared With Your Tin:
1. Line the inner side of the tin with butter and baking parchment.
2. When the baking parchment is in place, rub butter all over it and dust with flour.

Ingredients:
150 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
150 gms sugar
150 gms flour, plus extra for dusting
3 free range eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp strawberry essence
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsps milk
Colour – 3-4 drops (or as required)

Method:
1. Sift the flour and baking powder.
2. Cream the butter and sugar for one minute or till light and fluffy
3. Add eggs one by one, add essence and keep beating.
4. Fold in the flour and baking powder.
5. Add milk and beat till there are no lumps.
6. Divide the mixture in two halves.
7. Add colour in one of the halves and mix.
8. Spoon the mixture inside the prepared tin, alternating the vanilla and strawberry.
9. Take a toothpick and drawn a zig-zag pattern over the surface to create a marble effect.
Alternatively, you can pour the strawberry mixture above the vanilla or vice-versa.
10. Pat the tin to remove any extra air bubbles.
11. Gently place the tin over the stand in the cooker and close the lid. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
12. Do the fork test, first at the sides, then at the centre. It should come out clean when done.
13. Transfer it to the wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Points To Remember:
1. ***** is really really important.
2. Its advisable to use a regular aluminium cooker than a non-stick one.
3. Baking more than once a month in a pressure cooker is not recommended. Regular use might lead to deterioration.
4. Works well with tutti-frutti cake and chocolate sponge.
Cooker Cake 1

P.S.: Looks stunning, doesn’t it! On the other side of fear is victory. Well, in my case, it was this incredibly gorgeous, buttery-soft delight.
Its all about having the guts to create something really special. So go on. Kill your fear. And get coo-king 🙂

Matki Chi Usal – Moth Beans Curry

Sprouted moth beans curry or “Matki Chi Usal” in Marathi, is well-known in every nook and corner of Maharashtra – in homes and restaurants alike. Sprouts pack a protein punch. Rich in antioxidants and fiber, there’s whole lot of nutrition on the plate.
You can play with the level of spiciness too. I like it spicy. The fiery red color is enough to get my tummy rumbling 🙂
This one’s a heavily simplified yet delectable version of my tradition. Its fun to be shamelessly simple sometimes 🙂
Matki Usal 1
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (only if you have the sprouts ready)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 – 5

Ingredients:
1. 2 1/2 cups sprouted Makti or Moth beans
You can sprout them at home or just grab the ready ones from the market. I do it at home. Love to see those long gorgeous sprouts developing right in front of me.
2. 2 medium onions, finely chopped
3. 1 medium potato, cubed
4. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
5. 2 tsps kashmiri chili powder
6. 2 tsps goda masala (use garam masala as an alternative)
7. 2 tbsps ginger-garlic paste
8. 1 tsp mustard seeds
9. 1 tsp cumin seeds
10. 6-7 curry leaves
11. Oil for frying
12. Salt to taste
13. 1 tbsp lemon juice
13. Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
1. Pressure cook the matki and potato cubes with a cup of water and turmeric. (Remember not to overcook).
2. Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and let them spatter.
3. Add cumin seeds and curry leaves and stir.
4. Add chopped onions and fry till soft and translucent
5. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till fragrant
6. Add the spice powders and fry till the oil starts separating at the corners
7. Now tumble in the cooked beans and potato cubes. (If you want a thicker gravy, mash a small amount of cooked beans before adding)
8. Sprinkle salt as per taste
9. Mix well and let it simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.
10. Add more water if you don’t want it too dry.
10. Lastly add lemon juice and stir.
11. While plating, garnish with chopped onions and coriander
12. Serve hot with chapatis or any Indian bread. Goes well with steamed rice too.

P.S.: After cooling completely, can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3 – 4 days.