Monday, November 30, 2009

Cavalry Dinner : A Promise of Short Skirts et al

I have written on the food in the Army earlier. I have to write about the second highpoint of every Armored Corps officer/ Cavalry officer in India. The first of course is Nagar, like every artist thinks of Paris, the same reverence is accorded to Nagar (Ahmednagar) in the Armored Corps in India.

As a Young officer, you are told about Nagar and its nightlife and its promiscuous ladies. You almost feel like a Jihadi who is promised Jannat, Hoors (Damsels) and sweet wines (almost all things otherwise forbidden in Islam) at becoming a martyr. I have often wondered, prompted, by brother dear Sanjiv, how can one half of a population be promised to the other half (men being promised promiscuous women) in heaven on becoming a martyr.

In peace loving India, there are a few opportunities of martyrdom hence you are promised Jannat, in Nagar anyways, with hoors, sweet wine (unlimited wine , smarter guys hitting on Officers daughters and the lesser mortals acquainting women in white uniforms and other commercial interactions). Its almost like pent up escapism , the late nights, drives to Poona, eating at Subhash Dhaba, Drinking at all the Whisky bars (various Officers Mess and Clubs and Institutes in town). Whoosh Heady feeling.

The Other big promise is at the other Mecca The Cavalry Week, culminates with the Cavalry Dinner also called the Cav Dinner. The promise is, officially being allowed to go to Delhi attend the Cav Dinner while you are in the Army. If one is from Delhi even better, get to take a lady friend and expose her to the glamour of the Army life especially as a tank man. Usually held at The Oberoi in the yesteryears, has tried The Imperial, The Shangri La and the deepest dregs of Hotels The Crowne Plaza at Friends Colony. Hope it makes TheImperial its home it goes with its regal image. With Cavaliers and Lancemen in the Lobby, the bar by Sea grams. The old generals, the gracious Turkish Mrs Zorawar Singh. The stylish eyepatch on a gent almost like Clark Gable in a Tuxedo.

Amidst all this, the promise of the shortest skirts on this side of the Yamuna. Well that’s what it used to be. Even the the head of the most powerful nation takes a look at the skirted being, let alone lesser mortals like the Army officers. Men in Cross belts and silver with tights in blue patrols, with a lots of silver and brass and boots with spurs and ladies in a chit of chiffon Whooo !

Hang on this a a food blog so what did we eat, Dearest wife Praveen and I arrived early ate the celery and leek tarts, followed by a chilly chicken and a grilled fish, we drank Grovers wine got the best and kickass service by the Senior Captain himself (from the Hotel and not the Indian Army). I switched to some serious drinking and lost count of time and the drinks to really enumerate a treatise on the food. It was nice, it always is like a good Army Buffet it has fish , Chicken and Mutton. Lots of Hot Food like the last man last bullet, hot food for the last man standing in this case, literally. The Imperial does a stupendous job for the price that the Army pays them. I think they do it because of the Photo opportunity the event brings to all Gora guests at the hotel and the British Raj glamour it brings with it at the appropriate setting of The Imperial.

All this on a very pleasant November evening in the Lawns Of The Imperial with nothing less than the Velvet Fog the Armored Corps band in attendance. Really takes you to another time and place to a simpler life in simpler times all for Rs 2000/- for a couple. Its risen from a Rs 1000/- years ago. Very very affordable, Definitely a part of a Guide to Eating out for a salesman, provided the salesman has been an Officer in the Cavalry like the author.

Well about the short skirts they were in short supply or the migraton of the Siberian Crane is late or is not going to happen.
Cheers and Bash on Regardless !

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

White Collar Or Blue Collar : Matruchaya Mumbai

After a meeting with Volkswagen at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, we conferred where to eat lunch, at the Delicatessen called the Gourmet Store ? ( that’s as far as I would go in a large hotel, even the coffee shops are unaffordable).

The Gourmet store is a true Delicatessen or Deli, where you can buy, Cured meats , Cheese, Foie Gras, Pate, Breads, Besides they do some gourmet sandwiches with choice of bread like focacia, stuffing’s like ham, cheese , jalapenos. With a choice of plain, toasted or grilled. I like the place. Besides, very few places in India can claim to be true blue delicatessens. Especially, the likes of Indigo Deli in Mumbai and the Smoke House Deli in New Delhi are far from being a that. They turn out to be fully fledged restaurants and masquerading to fine dining in that.
True to my salt and grain we decided, to get going from the five star environs, after gulping a few more lungs full of air conditioned deodorized hotel air. Headed to Worli, in a lane opposite the old passport office, to Hotel Matruchaya, the perfect salesman’s eating out experience. We stick to the Non Ac hall to recheck our recently debunked theory of service and their relationship to AC halls and Non AC Halls. Yes In Mumbai you still get better service in the Non AC Hall.

We enter and stick to basics, though my colleague Shiny, politely mentions something Tawa, (for a person in Mumbai, anything done on a Tawa is something special), we stay away from anything on Tawa. It’s a grubby two level restaurant, with quick service and almost ready made food. We order, aVegetarian Meal/ Thali for the Vegan Ankeet . A Prawn Masala Thali and a Mutton Masala Thali and as add ons we order a Surmai Fry (Seer/ King Fish)and Bombil Fry (Bombay Duck a Fish), a Prawn fry, A dish of Vade (fried, hard Malvani Puris) and Two Jeera drinks.
The Food is flavorful and fresh, though quite similar to all such coastal food restaurants in this or
around this range. Almost feels it comes out of a common kitchen located centrally, only garnished on site.
We have this entire gourmet meal for Rs 355/, about Rs 118 per head, we just crossed the Rs 100 mark. But, like I have said before, we make a subliminal effort and not a conscious effort to stay under the Rs 100 mark. Matruchaya, is for the hard worker, a thirty year restaurant, run by Prashant Bhingarde and his father Prakash Bhingarde.
Simple food, simple ingredients, at simple affordable prices for the blue blooded proletariat. The Blue collared worker, the true Mumbaikar, or a blue collared masquerading as a white collared (photo enclosed, Both Blue and White Collared).
This place was recommended by my friend and ex colleague, Sanjay Das….. An eternal foodie. Thanks Sanjay, enjoyed the experience. Cannot wait to all the new exotic places you have lined up in Calcutta specifically Chitta Da.

Thats me after the lunch (exhibit 1 with the pehelwan/ wrestler, Thats the apt photo (exhibit2) for the White Collar Vs Blue collar Debate (me in a light Blue Collar)