Tuesday 30 April 2013

The Table - A Tale of Brussels Sprouts

When I first visited Mumbai before actually moving here - around this time last year, Mr Jules took me to the relatively newly opened 'The Table' restaurant in Colaba. He said that the Brussels Sprouts 'were to do die for' there. This claim did not exactly sell it to me, but Mr Jules does love a good Brussels Sprout so I was happy to go with it. And I do have to admit, that the Brussels Sprout dish (stir fried with water chestnuts) was actually really rather good. I can't really remember what else we ate.

Then this weekend, a year later, Mr Jules thought he would treat me out to Saturday Lunch. How nice! He also mentioned something about wanting to have Brussels Sprouts again. Hmmm. So we went back to The Table. (For any Indian readers, you need to understand that in the UK, us Brits either hate Brussels Sprouts or we love them. Kids usually absolutely hate them. I tend to fall into the latter camp but as you can tell, Mr Jules loves them. Oh, and we tend to mostly eat them at Christmas time when they can be quite nice served up with crispy bacon).

View from the mezzanine seating area. I love the interior of The Table

When we got seated in The Table - a very elegantly designed restaurant, we were immediately handed the lunch menu which is divided into 'small plates', 'large plates', snacks and sides. Mr Jules - who is usually a laid-back kinda guy - was pretty insistent on ordering several 'small plates'. Sort of tapas style eating, instead of going for the whole three course shebang. I thought he was being cheap....call this a treat?! So he proceeded to pick out some of the 'small plates': beetroot salad (my choice); crispy chicken wings (we're not at KFC now you know!); pork belly 'sliders' (how very NYC); meatballs ("you lookin' at me??"); and of course the Brussels Sprouts. Actually the waiter tried to stop him once he had ordered the fourth small plate but we got in another for good measure. Especially as the fifth dish was of course the Brussels Sprouts.

It took no time at all before the beetroot salad and the chicken wings arrived, as well as the feted Brussels Sprouts. The small rounds of beetroot were served with juicy pieces of orange and creamy goats cheese. Lovely and refreshing. And the chicken wings were an absolute revelation. You can forget about any mention of KFC because these were boneless morsels of chicken that had somehow been moulded into neat squares and topped with its own crispy skin. Very clever! And they wouldn't mess up my lipstick! As for the Brussels Sprouts? - well I thought they were a little on the bitter side and not as good as they were this time last year. But not a bad effort and thankfully they did not bring back any of those childhood memories of being force-fed sprouts at Christmas. Mr Jules was pleased that I let him finish off the rest of the plate.

Beetroot salad

These are crispy chicken wings like you've never seen before!
Lastly came the pork belly sliders and the meatballs. I have a real penchant for pork belly - and the crispier the crackling, the better. This particular slider was made up of a slice of pork belly (no crackling to speak of) in between two halves of a small fluffy bread roll with a drizzle of mustard dressing. I was a bit gutted about the dressing as I didn't think it complimented the pork and it was far too tart. So I pulled the pork out of the bun, scraped off the dressing and ate it plain. Nice. The meatballs were delicious. Coated in a thick tomato sauce and topped off with parmessany matchstick potatoes. However, by this point I was too full to eat my half of the portion. The waiter was right - four small plates are really enough for two people.

Pork Belly Sliders topped off with onion rings

Meatballs with the parmessany matchstick potato garnish. Yum

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and I want to go back and try out all the other dishes (over time). Mr Jules thinks The Table is the best western style restaurant in Mumbai and I would tend to agree with him. They've sort of got it right. The interior is lovely, the staff are impeccable, the ingredients are excellent quality, the presentation of the food is top-notch and so is the cooking. I will forgive them for the tart mustard sauce on the pork belly.

And remember, Brussels Sprouts Are Not Just For Christmas!

Those controversial Brussels Sprouts

Swanky bar area of The Table

The above dishes, two bottles of sparkling water, two coffees, service and tax came to Rs 3,850 (GBP 45 or $68)

The Table
Kalash Peshi Building,
Near Hotel Suba Palace,
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Apollo Bandar,
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400005
Phone:022 2282 5000

Monday 29 April 2013

An End to the Coffee Table Saga!

Anyone who has been following my blog for the last year will know that I have been doggedly hunting down a coffee table to replace the 'black laminate crime against interior design' that was supplied with our apartment. I've been to Chor Bazaar (several times), I've been to Oshiwara furniture market, and I've been to every single antiques shop in Mumbai. Well the hunt is OVER!

Just before I went back to the UK, we finally found something that would do at Moorthy's - the antique emporium in Tardeo.  It was actually delivered the night before I flew to London so I was not able to properly appreciate it until now.  In fact, within twelve hours of arriving back in Bombay last Friday, I decided I was no longer satisfied with the existing rug so we took ourselves off to find a new one from Le Mill.  The simple lines of the new rug goes better with the busy carving of the table and I feel that my mission to improve our sitting room is now complete.

I love our new coffee table - although it is a bit 'ethnic'.  It is actually a 200 year old hanging cradle from Gujurat which we then had converted using a piece of glass - but I like the eclectic look.  And of course the rug has a bit of orange in it to blend in with the rest of the stuff in the room.

Anyway, I hope you like it too...I just need to find some nice coffee table books to place on it now - (or as Mr Jules would say..."more things that will collect dust!")

Carved wooden cradle from Gujurat converted into a coffee table.  I like the fact that it has a history.

How it looked when we discovered it in Moorthy's

Mmmmm ...need some coffee table books.  The collection of TV remote controls are not so attractive!

Woollen rug - Jaipur Rug at Le Mill (www.jaipurrugs.com)

Thanks for visiting our home, please come again!

Shop No. 17/25, 
Nandlal Jani Road, 
New Railway Bridge,
Masjid Bunder

I'm Back! And so are the Koels...

Hello, long time no hear.

Well I am finally back in Bombay after nearly a month in the UK.  You will have read in my last post how miserable I felt in grey and prohibitively expensive London.  But it's around 40 degrees here!  So it's payback time as I will now be confined to house and car with the A/C turned right up.  I will even find the short walk to Pali Market to buy my veg a challenge in this weather.  Should I be looking forward to the Monsoon which is scheduled to start in June?

Some of you will be asking yourselves what a Koel is - as mentioned in the title.  Well, the 'Asian' Koel is a species of bird which has a very annoying call and which is particularly vocal during its mating season (about now). I was not happy to be greeted by an army of Koels in the trees outside our apartment block upon my return to India! Usually, the calls start at around four in the morning - often waking me up -  then going on all day until dusk. The call is a rising 'Koo-el, Koo-el, Koo-el' (hence its name).  Anyone who lives in India will know exactly what I am talking about - as the noise can drive you to distraction.  

Male Asian Koel (Picture: Guy RH Miller via BirdForum.net).
You won't actually often get to see a Koel - so this is what they look like.
See that evil red eye?
Mr Jules, my bird-loving husband told me some facts about the Koel over the weekend after I complained about being woken up at 4am again. The bird is in fact a large, long-tailed Cuckoo - which I did know.  I guess when you compare the sounds with our British cuckoo, it's not too far off - although it is much louder and much more annoying!  But why are they around at this time of year making that terrible racket?  Well it's all to do with the crows.

Female Asian Koel (Picture: Wikipedia.com)

The Koel is a brood parasite (as are all cuckoos) - which means that it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds - usually the Jungle Crow or House Crow.  At this time of year, crows are nesting - making nests and having families of their own.  When the Koels have successfully called out to a mate and are ready to lay an egg, the male will distract mummy crow whilst the female Koel lays her egg in its nest.  Sometimes the female Koel will do this on her own and sometimes she will even remove one of the crow's eggs before doing this.  Devious! When the chicks are born they initially call like a crow chick in order to deceive the crow mother.  Unlike some other breeds of cuckoo, they thankfully do not chuck out competing crow chicks from the nest - but instead will live in unison with them until they fledge after 20-28 days. So the cuckoo species has all the benefits of pro-creation without any of the inconveniences of bringing up their own children.  Perhaps clever rather than devious?

Here is a You Tube video of the annoying bird in question - see what I mean?  Have some pity on us!

Saturday 20 April 2013

BombayJules is AWOL

So it's a bit quiet on the blogging front because I am in the UK dealing with my passport and visa renewal, house and pet matters.  Being here has made me realise how much I miss my relatively new home in Mumbai and in particular the sun!  Before I went to India, I wondered to myself how I would cope with the heat but being in London....well it's just too darn grey (sorry UK peeps!).  This is a little in contrast to the previous time I was here and I rejoiced in the simple pleasures of England.  Oh well. Here is a little more I have written about my Easter Weekend for Chalo! Magazine:

It was the Thursday before Easter weekend when I had arrived, and the UK could not be described as anything other than cold and miserable.  In fact it was the second coldest April since records began and I really felt it.  As the wind whistled through the gaps in the windows of our ancient house and the snow started to come down, I already began to start missing Mumbai within a few hours of getting through the door.  How I yearned for the sun streaming through the floor to ceiling sliding doors of our Bandra sitting room or even the need to put on the air-conditioning!  I could even forgive Mumbai for being too hot and humid to go outside which I am sure it is by now.
Foolishly, I hadn’t really taken into account that is was going to be Easter when I booked my flight home…I had arrived husbandless and all my friends had already fled London to go and see family and friends. The neighbours had wisely pulled down their blinds and escaped the city with their small children.  Now I was even more miserable – and there was no way I was going to spend several hundred pounds on a last  minute train ticket to go and visit my own relatives up North.  How I missed my hubby and our driver who would take us anywhere on a weekend whim!  
However, I did still at least have the company of my cats. So there we sat for two days with the central heating turned up as high as it would go, cuddled up on the sofa inside a fleece, pashmina and blanket and an additional heater to warm our feet/paws.  But as hard as I tried, I just could not get warm.  Eventually (and to prevent myself freezing to death and being eaten by wolves) I prized myself away from British Daytime Telly (consisting mainly of repeats of Homes Under The Hammer, Come Dine With Me and Top Gear) to go to the supermarket.
I gleefully skipped up and down the aisles of Sainsbury’s swinging my shopping basket (which served well in getting my circulation going).  It is possible that my heart may have completely stopped sitting there on the sofa! There is nothing like the sight of organic Bressingham duck breasts, ‘Taste The Difference’ Lincolnshire pork sausages and sunny Sicilian Lemons to warm the cockles of a gourmet non-dieter. How I’d forgotten how wonderful our supermarkets are!  I must have spent hours in there; stroking tubs of hummus and coleslaw, squeezing Italian plum tomatoes and Hass avocados, sniffing bars of Green & Blacks chocolate and eyeing up bottles of cheap Rioja.  If I’d been spotted on the security cameras, I am sure they’d have called someone to come and take me away. But of course by the time I got to the check-out I would soon come down off my high. Thirty quid for a small chicken, some veg and a pint of milk! (and of course those Taste The Difference Lincolnshire Pork Sausages and a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie).  Get me back to Mumbai where I can get a bag of the freshest, most delectable vegetables from Pali Market for a mere pound!  And two plump chicken breasts from Joseph's for a couple of quid! How people are surviving in the UK, I just don’t know.

Anyway, it’s taken me a while to get motivated and writing this piece has proven difficult – something about Mumbai really does do something for my creative juices. But I’ll be back soon and look forward to coming up with more topics for my blog!  See you soon!
No photos of Mumbai scenes but instead a picture of my cat Wooster before he was taken to his foster parents - we fought each other for the TV remote control over the Easter Weekend
My other cat Binky - happy to pose for a photo shoot during a fit of boredom 
(yes it's true, I am a mad cat woman!)

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Beautiful Aarey Milk Colony

When MaximumCityMadam wanted to test out her new Canon camera, she suggested that we visit Aarey Milk Colony near Powai so that we could take photos together. MaximumCityMadam is now officially another Lady Wot Has a Posh Camera I am severely lagging behind in the camera stakes with my little Sony Nex-5.  It has been great for blogging purposes - it's neat and handy and doesn't need much figuring out - but I feel the need to upgrade to a proper DSLR soon.  Watch this space! (it's my birthday soon Mr Jules, hint hint!)

The Maharashtra state government claims that Aarey Milk Colony was Asia's first dairy, set up by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai in 1951 to ensure that city folk received fresh pasteurised milk (I have included a full explanation below).  The area, which I had never been to before, is a wonderful and scenic place not far from the heart of Mumbai, made up of numerous cattle farms in a leafy, bucolic setting. When we went, it was early on a Saturday morning - about 8am. The light was glorious - casting interesting shadows and highlighting the early morning mist and dew glistening on scarce city greenery.  There is no need to explain why the Colony attracts so many joggers - what a wonderful place to take exercise and what a paradise for keen photographers.

The numerous farm workers we encountered gladly welcomed us onto their land and into their cattle sheds. Not a word of English was spoken and most of the communications between us was done with hand gestures. It was really like being in very rural India with the usual smiles all around and a willingness to have their photos taken.  And the many buffalo lining the muddy sheds nonchalantly chewed straw whilst we snapped away.

Aarey is the most beautiful place I have visited within the city limits of Mumbai and I would recommend it for a relaxing weekend day trip - especially for those yearning for the countryside.  

Here are the photos (more posted on the BombayJules Facebook page)

Curly Mop Cow
Practicing our Rule of Thirds
One of many fragrant cowsheds

This Aarey dweller is a rickshaw driver
Good friends
Beautiful English style country lanes!

Two women working the land stop to pose for MaximumCityMadam

Man burning poo bricks.

Proud father poses with his son
A group of farm workers posing (note guy on right holding his pet pigeon!)
Hilarious cow peeping over the wall at us
This farmworker wanted to show us his calves.  And the baby cow.
Above and below: Many milk floats to be seen travelling the country lanes of Aarey

Pushing around dirt

Information below taken from http://dairy.maharashtra.gov.in/

During Second World War to prevent of malnutrition pregnant ladies and children due to food shortage, Municipal Corporation of Mumbai started milk distribution system. Each female used to get half litre of milk. This scheme was operational till 1946. After that Civil Supply Department was operating this scheme.

As there were no facilities for boiling the milk, raw milk was supplied to British soldiers, officers, and employees. They were not used to drink raw milk which created health problem for them. The cattle sheds of Mumbai were in unhygienic conditions and rearing/nursing of cattle was done in unscientific ways. Due to this health problems surfaced in the nearby locality. To rehabilitate cattle shed of Mumbai in a more scientific way and to encourage clean milk production, in the year 1949, Aarey Milk Colony was established.

A total of 16,000 buffaloes from Mumbai were shifted in 30 cattle farms at Aarey Milk Colony. To enable the citizens to get the pasteurized milk, in the year 1951 Asia’s first dairy at Aarey was established. 

The head of Dairy Development Department was the Milk Commissioner. To ensure the steady progress of Dairying, the Government established Dairy Development Department in the year 1958. From 1960, milk from rural areas was collected and supplied to the urban areas to process this milk other Worli Dairy established in the year 1961 and Kurla Dairy was established in the year 1975. On the same note, Government Chilling Centres and Government Milk schemes were established in other districts. In the year 1960, about 1 LLPD(lakh ltrs. per day) of milk was procured and today the figure goes up to 35 LLPD.

  1. To develop the skills of dairying in rural people and prepare them to accept this activity as a joint business along with farming.
  2. To develop Co-operative societies at village,taluka and district level.
  3. To encourage dairying in Co-operative sector and to strengthen the Co-operative dairies and unions to be economically strong.
  4. To outline various programmes for efficient working of dairies in Govt. sector.
  5. To ensure even production of milk in flush and lean season.
  6. To supply unadulterated and wholesome milk regularly to the people of urban area at reasonable rates.

Friday 5 April 2013

The Smart Schoolchildren of India

Whenever you are out and about in Mumbai - or anywhere else in India for that matter - you will see children sporting a wonderful array of school uniforms on their way to class. Unlike the boring navy blue, grey and black attire of the schoolchildren in my home country, Indian uniforms come in a rainbow of colours and a variety of designs.  Surprisingly, most of the uniforms are Western style with pleated skirts, pinafores or neatly pressed trousers, short sleeved shirts, and the odd pullover.  The styles are so old fashioned, so British mid-century, that they remind me of my own boarding school days! 

The dress requirements of all religions are catered for - I have seen complete cover-up Muslim uniforms with headscarves and I have seen traditional Indian salwar kameez with dupatta draped around the neck.  The dupattas come pre-folded and pinned to ensure they don't fall off whilst playing.  Children who attend Catholic schools sport the widest variety of dress materials and I love the fact some of them are tartan, gingham or checked!

Just some of the photos I have of children on school trips! Most of these shots were taken on my travels.

The children themselves can put our own to shame.  It doesn't matter where they come from - be it a slum or Mumbai's burgeoning upper classes - each and every child is immaculately turned out with clean and neatly pressed uniforms, pigtails for the girls and combed side partings for the boys. I am used to experiencing British children on the top deck of the bus, shouting, screaming, playing their music loudly and generally abusing the other passengers.  OK, so you will see Indian schoolchildren also shouting wildly (especially when you come near with a camera!) but there is no verbal abuse...just respect, fun and laughter. My heart always warms to them.

Girls waiting to get into a Tea Museum in Munnar, Kerala.
Very fancy waistcoat/skirt combos and not a flip-flop in sight!

My post is called 'The Smart Schoolchildren of India' because they are smart in more ways than one.  They take their education very seriously here. Work hard at school and get on in life. That's what they all think and that's what they all do. These children wear their uniforms with pride.

From the collage above you can see that I have accumulated quite a collection of photos over the last year.  There is always a big line of children when you are waiting to get into a fort or museum and they always demand to have their photo taken whilst shouting hello in their best English (or 'Namaste!').

Thanks for looking!

This little girl in her gingham frock is being given
a lift to school on her grandfather's bike (Worli Fishing Village, Mumbai)

Giggling school girls in their immaculate, mid-century style checked uniforms (outside the Dutch Museum in Cochin)

Not school children but trainee policemen on a jog! (Mumbai)
This rickshaw driver is pulling six well groomed girls to school (Varanasi)
Children not in their uniforms - the day we visited this school in a Kaziranga village, the girls were wearing traditional Assamese dress for a Hindu festival.  Note their hair all neatly tied back. So adorable!

School girls treating themselves on the way home from school.
These uniforms are traditional Indian salwar kameez with dupatta held in place by epaulettes.  Lovely colours!
Boys in immaculate white trousers and shirts - surely dirtied after a day's safari in dusty Kaziranga National Park