Monday, October 17, 2016

First Plan your “Eat” – then Eat your “Plan” : An Affair to Remember

EATING OUT IN MUMBAI
Mouthwatering Mumbai Memories
Nihari 
An Affair to Remember 
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Foodie Archives: 



Mouthwatering Memories of a delicious meal I had long back in Mumbai.


I think I wrote this more than 11 years ago, sometime in the year 2005. 


Now, let me relish the memorable meal in my mind's eye  so I post this once again for you to read and savour.

I wonder whether the place still exists  and whether the Nihari is as delicious and wholesome as it was then. 

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER – Mouthwatering Mumbai Memories by Vikram Karve

I look in front of me. 
 
I like what I see. 
 
I keep seeing, my eyes locked on to the target, as if by some mysterious, yet astonishing, force of attraction. 
 
Something is happening within me.
 
Senses heighten. 

I am stimulated  aroused in a way I have never felt before. 
 
Waves of desire rise within me. 
 
I feel tremors of anticipation. 
 
My mouth salivates and I lick my lips lasciviously in eager expectation. 
 
I feast my eyes hungrily. 
 
My heart beats. 
 
I feel possessed. 
 
Intense passion and lusty craving overwhelms me. 
 
I can’t control myself any longer.   
 
Wild with desire, I move towards my target, ready for the kill.
 
No...! No...! Dear Reader. Just wait a moment. Hold your horses.
 
Don’t let your imagination run wild. 
 
The object of my desire – it is not what you are thinking. 
 
What I am looking at, the object of my attention, the focus of my temptation, is a bowl Nihari – two succulent generous pieces of mutton floating in rich nourishing gravy looking so luxuriant and tempting, that I just can’t wait to devour the dish. 
 
But I control myself.

Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight. That’s the Art of Eating.

It is sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner.
 
The bowl of Nihari, so luxuriously appetizing; a Khameeri Roti, so soft and fluffy. 
 
It looks sumptuous and scrumptious. 
 
I move closer. 
 
The tempting aroma - so enticing, so blissful - permeates within me, energizes my brain cells, and activates my taste buds. 
 
My mouth waters. I am ready to eat.
 
Eating is not a gustatory experience alone... it is visual and olfactory as well. 
 
Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good. 
 
The Art of Eating... it is Holistic... Multidimensional... Encompassing all domains of your inner being.
 
If you want to do full justice to good food, you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough. 
 
And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence. 
 
An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine eating each and every course, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye. 
 
Remember: 

First plan your “eat” – then eat your “plan”.
 
It’s true. 
 
I eat my food twice. 
 
First I eat in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it. 
 
And then I do the honours – I actually go ahead and physically eat the food and enjoy the delightful experience. 
 
Using my right thumb and forefinger, I lovingly pick small piece of meat from the gravy and delicately place it on my tongue. 
 
I close my eyes – I look inside – to focus my conscious energy – to accentuate my awareness – to concentrate. 
 
That’s the cardinal principle of the Art of Eating. 
 
You must always close your eyes during the process of eating
 
When you eat – you must eat  nothing else  no seeing, no hearing, no talking. 
 
No multitasking – multitasking ruins the eating experience.
 
Focus, eat mindfully, meditatively, honour your taste buds and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.
 
The meat is so tender that even a toothless person can eat it. 
 
It’s truly “Melt in the mouth” cuisine – like the famous Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow. 
 
Soft, succulent, juicy.
 
You don’t chew. 
 
You just gently squeeze the meat, softly rolling your tongue against the palate until the meat dissolves releasing its fascinating flavours. 
 
It is sheer bliss... Enlightenment... Gustatory Orgasm... Sensory Resonance... 
 
I do not have words to describe the exhilarating sensation.
 
That’s the hallmark of a genuine nourishing and invigorating Nihari – the best part of the thigh muscle  specially selected prime marrow bones – with generous portions of succulent meat – tenderized and marinated with curds  seasoned lovingly in the choicest of spices  and dum-cooked to seal in the juices and flavours – cooked slowly and gently  in a gravy carefully thickened with an assortment of flours of wheat, maize and dals as per the season and taste  and garnished with thin strips of ginger and fine slices of fresh green chillies and a sprinkling of coriander.
 
I turn my attention to the Khameeri Roti. 
 
Holding the roti with my left hand – I pull out a piece with my right. 

The texture is perfect – soft and fluffy. 
 
I sample a piece – yummy – it tastes good by itself.

And – and why shouldn’t it taste good...? 
 
Whole-wheat atta kneaded with plenty of curds – seasoned with a bit of sugar and salt – fermented overnight in a moist cloth, flattened and cooked in a tandoor. 
 
Nourishing, luxuriant Khameeri Roti– ideal accompaniment with the Nihari.
 
I dip a piece of roti in the thick gravy – allowing it to soak in – and place it on my tongue. 
 
Exquisite. 
 
A gentle bite. 
 
Tangy ginger strips and sharp chilli.
 
A confluence of contrasting tastes. 
 
I absorb the riot of zesty flavours. 
 
It’s exciting, invigorating, perks me up – and I am ready for what I am going to do next.
 
And – what am I going to do next...? 
 
You knew it – didn’t you...? 
 
I call for a marrow spoon – I dig it into the marrow bone  scoop out some marrow  and lick it on my tongue. 

I close my eyes – and – I can feel the nourishment permeating in me  all the way through. 
 
It’s a wonderful feeling. 

Yes – it's a truly divine feeling.
 
I eat in silence. 
 
Mindfully. 
 
I savour the aroma – delicately place the food on my tongue  chew slowly – and I experience the variety of flavours – as the flavours permeate my taste buds  I close my eyes to be fully aware – and I sense the nourishment – as the food dissolves – and sinks deep within me.
 
The succulent meat. 
 
The sumptuous gravy. 
 
The luxuriant fluffy Khameeri Roti. 
 
It is a feast worthy of the Gods. 
 
Indeed – an ambrosial repast...!
 
I am in a supreme state of bliss. 
 
Is this enlightenment...? 
 
Or – is it gustatory delight...?  
 
Maybe – it’s meditative eating. 
 
Or – let’s narrow it down to the art of eating – to be specific  the Art of Eating a Nihari.
 
It’s simple. 
 
Create a positive eating atmosphere – honour your taste buds  respect your food  and eat it in a proper state of mind – with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation  and you will be transported to a state of bliss and happiness
 
That – in a nutshell  is The Art of Eating – especially  the Art of Eating a Nihari.
 
 
Epilogue
 
I used to visit two eateries on 1st Marine Street Dhobi Talao near Metro Cinema in Mumbai – Sassanian – when in the mood for Parsi food or maybe a Roast Chicken  or to pick up delicious cakes, biscuits and freshly baked delights from their Boulangerie next-door – and  Punjabi Fish Mart – for earthy deep fried fish best enjoyed piping hot by well fortified cast-iron stomachs on cold damp monsoon evenings.
 
Many years ago – more than 11 years ago  maybe in mid 2005 – when I used to live near Churchgate in Mumbai  while returning one evening from one of my food-walks  I noticed that – there was a newly opened restaurant in between these two of my favourite eateries (Sassanian and Punjabi Fish Mart)

The newly opened restaurant was called Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – with a takeaway section  from where I picked up a menu card – and I walked home.
 
Later that night I read the menu card – and I was delighted to find on it my favourite non-vegetarian delicacy – Nihari. 

I knew it wouldn’t be long before I partook of the dish.
 
And soon – I had my tryst with Nihari – and – I experienced this delightful gustatory affair to remember.

It’s been a long time since I visited Jaffer Bhaifor a Nihari 

So – Dear Reader – if you happen to live nearby in Mumbai – why dont you visit the place ’ and let us know whether the place still exists – and if the Nihari is still as good as it used to be way back then.
 
And – my dear Fellow Foodie Friends – Do let me know of a good place where I can enjoy my favourite Nihari in Pune – and – also tell me about your favourite Nihari – if you've relished one.

Happy Eating. 

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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