Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mumbai Moments

Among the things I love most about my job are the opportunities to meet some remarkable people. John Wood, founder of Room to Read is one such person. The organization he has created is helping bring books and basic education to numerous children in South Asia who never experienced the magic of the written word before. I was in Mumbai on this day to speak at a fund-raiser for their Mumbai chapter.

This was my first time at the Westin in Goregaon, Mumbai. A tall building with an impressive lobby, the hotel has some of the best rooms I have been in. If you have and hour or two to spare, I also recommend the spa. Kim, my therapist from Mizoram, was very skilled and worth every minute of the time I spent here.

The event itself was a black-tie charity gala that slowly filled up with the affluent and pretty people of Mumbai. Among them were yesteryear starlets Sonali Bendre and Sangeeta Bijlani, songstress Sunita Rao and Bollywood actors Sanjay Suri and Gayatri Joshi.

The event itself was organized with an impeccable eye for detail. After the auctions which raised about a million dollars in new funds, we moved onto a multi-course dinner that consisted of a contemporary rendering of Indian-inspired cuisine.

I also visited Peshawari at the ITC Maratha after a long gap. The Northwest Frontier inspired food of kababs and breads continues to be finger-licking delicious. Nothing like using your fingers to dig into succulent kababs and tear into tandoori naans and rotis.

I had ordered portions of Ajwaini Jheenga and Sikandari Raan along with Garlic Naan. The portions were huge, especially that of the raan. Ironic that I was reading the Omnivore's Dilemma where the author rues the American culture of super-sizing.

The Ajwaini Jheenga, marinated jumbo prawns and grilled in the tandoor was excellent. The raan was good too, but it was too heavy to polish off. On the other hand, the Dal Peshawari was as good as always. Unlike their other branded restaurants, ITC Hotels decided to have only one Bukhara - at The Maurya in New Delhi. Everywhere else, there is the Peshawari that provides the same cuisine in similar settings.

For desserts, I stayed with their speciality, the Kesar Phirni - rice pudding flavored with saffron and cardamom and topped with slivers of almond. Nice, sweet and soothing after all the kababs.

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