It’s been sometime that I’ve written here. A lot has been happening on the blog front – I made a whopping 13 odd dishes Saraswat meal for the guys at Secret Ingredient; I have three exciting series for the blog in mind; and got nominated at the IFBA Awards this month (for those of you who so kindly voted for me, I didn’t win.). But, I’ve been eating, cooking (not as much I’d like to have) and in general been researching for the blog.
Anyway, it’s been even longer that I’ve done a food review, and you are going to get two reviews in a row! Earlier this week, I was invited by Trident Nariman Point, Mumbai to their restaurant India Jones for a lovely Malaysian Food Festival. On arriving there, we were seated and presented with a rather elaborate and very easy to understand menu.
While the names were rather foreign, for a first-timer in terms of eating Malaysian food, the ingredients were surprisingly familiar. The server suggested that we take the sampler platter, which was available in vegetarian and non-vegetarian, to get a good idea of the meal. That was an excellent suggestion. The sampler platter is much like a thali, where you are served every dish available on the menu, in small quantities. Perfect for a tasting like ours.
We started off with our drinks – an Asian Colada and Apple and Peach cooler, which were rather blue in colour but surprisingly refreshing. My colada was a pineapple, lemongrass and coconut cream mix that could have been a tad less sweeter. But, I loved it, nevertheless.
The vegetarian appetisers were quite a revelation into what we could expect in the subsequent courses. Of the entire offering, I really liked the Pasembar Sayuran – Pan fried tofu and fresh vegetables in a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. The texture of the tofu was nice and crumbly against the thick sauce. The Rojak Buah Buahan Tempatan – Fresh fruits in a peanut sauce was definitely something I’d require to get my palate suited too, but again the sweetness of the fruits was well contrasted.
There’s nothing like some tender meat with a nice chunky sauce that does several things to your palate, and the Satay Aneka Seri Melayu – in other words, Malaysian chicken and lamb satay skewers – did just that. And, they went really well with the sambal at the table. No Malaysian dish is complete without its roti. A very Indian inspiration – the roti in Malaysia is of two types – Roti Jali (netted) and Roti Cinai (a crispy version of the malabari parotha). For appetisers, the roti jali was served with a fragrant and spicy fish curry – almost a cross between a Kerala fish curry and rasam – with pieces of succulent brinjal. And, the fried fish atop a mango salad was also quite refreshing.
The soups – the chicken and coconut and the pumpkin soup were mellow and subtle. While the pumpkin soup was the kind you’d want to bury your sorrows in, the chicken one was tangy with a strong aroma of lemon grass and lime.
By the main course – despite the small portions, we were quite stuffed! But, I am glad we pushed on, for the star of the meal was yet to come. The Beef Rendang is a classic dish from Malaysia, and the one at Trident Nariman Point did not disappoint us. Succulent pieces of meat beautifully slow roasted with dried coconut, sugar and a variety of spice, captured our palate. Second to that was the crunchy vegetables sauteed in a light Asian sauce – there’s something about having lettuce in a stir-fry that makes me want more!
The Malay style lamb curry with potatoes and the lovely, succulent braised prawn in a chilli tamarind sauce were delicious. What made it even more appetising was the Roti Cinai – its crisp layers were such a textural contrast with the thick, spicy and sweet sauces. The Rice Halba or ghee rice, too was something rather different with a milder, Malaysian version of fenugreek (methi) seeds.
The desserts, as expected were quite refreshing. Black rice pudding, with palm sugar and coconut milk was my favourite. The husband’s favourite was the Coconut Jelly. I loved the various fruits used in the assorted fruits in pandan and rose syrup. A lovely white mushroom – the first time I ate one – was quite fascinating, as was the candlenut – the first time I’d ever heard of it.
Overall, I loved the food at the Malaysian Food Festival and learnt so much from the Chef Jitu Phukan and Chef Kumarudin Bin Daliwho came down specially from Malaysia for the festival. I learned that the Malaysian food is much like South-Indian food with a few quintessential ingredients – palm sugar, brown sugar, coconut, galangal and lemon grass. What I loved most was the use of as authentic ingredients as possible and the treatment to the vegetables and meat.
The festival is on till tonight. If you’d like something different, do go and let me know it turned out!