Feast Like A King At The Bohri Kitchen

the bohri kitchen colaba

FEAST LIKE A KING AT THE BOHRI KITCHEN

Mother-son duo Nafisa and Munaf Kapadia run The Bohri Kitchen out of their home in Colaba, serving a delicious Bohri thaal to diners who struggle to leave when the meal is over. They also run TBK Express, delivering the goodness of their food to your home.

Prior reservations are mandatory for The Bohri Kitchen dining experiences. For more information, call +91 98194 47438 or +91 90290 20285. You can order from TBK Express here.

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR'S STORY

Like all great plans, the plan to visit The Bohri Kitchen was made spontaneously, over a dinner. A flurry of internet searches followed by another flurry of Whatsapp messages and, just like that, within 36 hours of that night, I found myself walking up the two floors of Orient Building in Colaba to reach the Kapadia household, aka food heaven. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Bohri Kitchen (TBK) is not only a gastronomic journey that is an amalgam of all the countries Bohris have lived in over generations but also one that invites you to share something intimate with complete strangers. The actual meal is just one part of the whole experience.

It begins with the formation of a Whatsapp group and a message with a handy Starter Kit that explains what TBK is about, followed by a detailed menu, instructions on the dress code (it advises you to wear "something expandable"), and other details about timings and address. I knew this was a commitment there was no backing down from. The hours that followed were an exercise in patience and restraint, because the menu looks that good on paper.

My excitement knew no bounds as I walked up the steps in anticipation. Until this point, I had to politely wait for that rare invitation to a Bohri friend's home to satisfy my thaal cravings, but here was a family willing to open the doors of their home to strangers just so that we can be fed! Indian mummies, FTW!

The Kapadias live in a charming apartment that is reminiscent of old Bombay. Nafisa, the matriarch of the house, is the genie behind the food. Munaf, her son, is the brains behind the business. He quit his job at Google to start TBK with the sole intention of sharing his mother's exceptional culinary skills, and his gamble has paid off. In the short time that TBK has been operational, it has fed thousands of hungry groups and expanded to include a delivery kitchen in Worli.

Our dining experience on that fine Monday night began with a welcome drink: a rose sharbat that reminded me of childhood Sundays spent visiting people with my parents and guzzling rose sharbat to colour my tongue in the brightest pink. As we sipped on our drinks, Munaf ran us through the meal we could expect and set some "rules" to follow. These include not attacking the food until he's done elaborating on each dish and is safely out of the way. And then it began.

The meal started off with the traditional Bohri custom of taking a pinch of salt on your tongue to help cleanse your palate and prepare your tastebuds for the meal. The thaal in all its glory was then brought out and laid down in the centre of the circle with condiments in a riot of colours arranged in little bowls. There was mint chutney, wedges of lime, khajoor and dry fruit chutney, pineapple and boondi raita, pickled jalapeños, Bhavnagari chillies stuffed with a peanut masala, and boiled beet with lime and sugar. We were so greedy by this point that we started eating the condiments by themselves; and the beautiful thing about TBK is that this is actually encouraged, and no one will judge you. By the time the first course was brought out, we were practically salivating. Chicken kirim tikka followed by kesar phirni followed by smoked mutton keema samosas, two types of dudhi halwa, raan (a full leg of lamb) in red masala.

the bohri kitchen colaba

While we were all given individual plates to serve ourselves off the thaal, there was no serving spoon, and Munaf encouraged us to eat the entire meal with our hands. The thaal is best enjoyed when you can lick your fingers at the end of the meal with satisfaction. With five courses stuffing our bellies, I was almost ready to call it quits. But the old hands that run TBK, having done this a few thousand times over, anticipated this and served us a jaljeera soda that is supposed to aid digestion. I'm not sure if it actually did, but this was a welcome break as Munaf regaled us with stories of previous TBK diners who have travelled from as far as Pune and Nashik just to eat a meal here, including a story of a diner who came for lunch, took a nap on their carpet, and stayed until dinner just so he could eat some more. A short walk around the living room and we were back in the game, ready to eat some more thanks to our expandable pants. It was time for the jaman (main course) consisting of chicken angara served with rotis and mutton kaari chawal. It was the perfect finisher to this meal fit for gluttons. The crescendo to the song.

But we weren't done yet; there was still some sancha ice cream, hand-churned at the TBK central kitchen, to be had. After that, there was utter silence; we were all happily in a state commonly referred to as “food coma”.

the bohri kitchen colaba

As the conversation picked up slowly once again, as Nafisa and Munaf chuckled at our inertia, as we collectively tried to motivate each other to get up and actually leave their home, my mind was busy trying to sum up the experience that is TBK. The many words I've used here don't quite do justice to what it really is as much as Munaf’s few words do: “When you come to The Bohri Kitchen, you’re of course coming in for an elaborate seven-course Bohri meal which will send you in a Bohri food coma, but more than that, you’re coming in for an experience which starts with us giving you stupid warnings like skip your breakfast and wear loose clothes. An experience where my mother is cooking food in the kitchen which guests are about to savour; an experience where my father is going around with the food to make sure that your plate is not empty at any given point, where I am constantly annoying everyone with the best eating practices and my weird sense of humour! Like my mom says, you enter as strangers, but leave as family!”

Photographs courtesy The Bohri Kitchen

Get A Room

GET A ROOM

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

A furtive glance. A stolen kiss. The electric touch of a grazing hand. That's about the sum of the action you can get in the big, bad city.

Mumbai is a city for everyone – entrepreneurs, bright-eyed students, wanna be film stars, makers and doers of all sorts, but a city for lovers it is not. In this megapolis starved for space, an opportunity for intimacy is as elusive as a day without traffic. But it's Valentine's Day, dinners have been done to death, and teddy bears are too cheesy. So bring out the blindfolds, light up the scented candles, crack open a bottle of champagne, and check into one of these hotels for a day of love (or lust) because we're ready to kiss and tell.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC

While Bandra-Kurla Complex with its glass facade buildings and cold hearted business vibe may not seem like the ideal place to get hot and heavy, you'll change your mind once you're inside. Think Gatsby manor rooms that will set you on the path to hedonism. With a bathtub and mirror facing bed, we suspect that won't be too difficult; just remember to close those blinds beforehand to keep out the dreariness and peeping toms.

Tip: Be nice enough to the person at the reception and they may offer you an upgrade for a nominal additional charge. The hotel also offers happy hours at the bar (with certain room deals) in the evening: which means free drinks and an alcohol fuelled evening.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC, C 57, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (e), Mumbai 400 051

Hotel Harbour View

What was once a seedy hotel with a notorious reputation has now turned into an adorable boutique hotel with nautical themed rooms. If you've ever fantasised about a sailor on a ship, this hotel is the answer. Throw caution to the winds, open the windows, and spend an afternoon of love making as the sea breeze and your lover caress the salt on your skin.

Tip: The hotel has a rooftop bar for when you want to take a break and look at the stars or into your paramour's eyes.

Hotel Harbour View, 25 PJ Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bandra, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001

Sahara Star

What this hotel lacks in taste, it makes up for with its discretion policy. Perfect for when you're in the mood for a quickie and want to be in and out (pun intended) in a few hours, no questions asked. The rooms are categorised by planet names, and we recommend the Venus Premier rooms that have a sky facing glass roof so you can see stars, both literally and figuratively.

Tip: While we don't condone exhibitionism, we do recommend a bit of mischief to up the ante. Sneak in a bit of PDA at the hotel's pool that lies at the centre with rooms overlooking it before heading up for a more adult version.

Sahar Star, Opposite Mumbai Domestic Airport, Mumbai 400 099

Four Seasons Hotel

We've all been to Aer for its expansive views and sunset happy hours. Now imagine that in your own private cocoon. Get a room on a higher floor, order in martinis, and make love pressed up against the windows as the sun melts into the sky behind you.

Tip: Check in late at night and sneak out early for an added bit of thrill (and if you want to avoid running into a known face), though getting caught is half the fun.

Four Seasons Hotel, 1/136, Dr E Moses Road, Gandhi Nagar, Worli, Mumbai 400 018

Grand Hyatt

It’s buzzing with activity at any time of day or night, so privacy is something you can't get when you're outside your room here. This is your cue for some role-play action as you sit at the bar, surrounded by strangers. Pretend like you don't know each other and indulge in some dirty talk before heading up to your room to sublimate your passion down to the last detail.

Tip: The hotel doesn't entertain walk in reservations so make sure you book your room in advance so it doesn't put a spoke in your plans.

Grand Hyatt, Bandra Kurla Complex vicinity, Off Western Express Highway, Santacruz (e), Mumbai 400 055

Mischief Managed.

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Your Guide To Healthy Meals In Mumbai

healthy food

YOUR GUIDE TO HEALTHY MEALS IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

“Hey, farmer farmer put away your DDT, I don’t care about spots on my apples. Leave me the birds and the bees please,” sang Joni Mitchell way back in 1970. All these years later, in a world full of genetically-modified, pesticide-laden food, there has, thankfully, been a conscious shift back to organic farming and food. India was a little slow on the uptake, but Mumbai now has a ton of places where you can “eat clean”.

So whether you’re a gluten averse, lactose intolerant, super food loving vegan or just someone who finds resonance in Mitchell’s lyrics, this guide to eating healthy in the city is tailor-made for you.

Breakfast

Start your day right with a bowl of oat porridge at Kala Ghoda Cafe. This giant bowl filled with hot porridge, almonds, and fruit is the food version of a cozy winter morning lying snuggled up under the blankets with warmth and goodness. It’s filling enough to help you charge through your hectic workday. Carpe diem!

Kala Ghoda Cafe, Bharthania Building, 10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 22650195

healthy food

If you’re on the other side of the sealink and in the mood for something desi, head to The Village Shop. This quaint café in Chimbai Village serves delicious health food that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Their Southern Sunrise is a “home-style daal dosa cooked in ghee. But what really gets it going is the chilly onion chutney that it’s served with. Mop it all up and ask for more for a breakfast that is protein packed and will make even your mother happy!

The Village Shop, 53 Serpis Villa, Chimbai Road, Near St. Andrews Church, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 3312 6928

Lunch

With its charming decor, cheery staff, and menu full of health food, The Pantry is your go-to place to spend lunch hour in the old business district. Get the Bhavnagari – chunks of tender chicken flavoured with an Indian chilli pesto sauce, onions, and arugula sandwiched between pillowy soft focaccia that is baked in their open kitchen. Gluten-free: check. Guilt-free: check.

The Pantry, Yeshwant Chambers, Military Square Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2267 8901

Power-packed lunch gets a whole new meaning at Kitchen Garden by Suzette: the answer to all of Bandra’s hipster fantasies. Lunch on one of their salads and watch as models and others from the “it” crowd saunter in and out. The Soba – Japanese Soba noodles, shredded carrots, red cabbage, grilled prawns, edamame, spring onions, coriander, and mint leaves, dotted with sesame and seasoned with a spicy miso and ginger dressing – hits the spot on any given day, leaving you stuffed to the gills minus the accompanying sluggish feeling.

Kitchen Garden by Suzette, 8/9, Gasper Enclave, St. John Street, Pali Naka, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2645 8176

Healthy Meals Guide_002

Coffee

If you haven’t been listening so far and are fighting a post-lunch slump, I strongly recommend you ditch the coffee and head to Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar to treat yourself to their raspberry and sour cherry jar that has organic bananas and raspberries, mango pulp, and sour cherries blitzed with cashew milk and topped with Mexican dark chocolate, Peruvian cacao nibs, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and raspberries. When it arrives, you’ll be torn between admiring it and devouring it instantly. It’s a bit tart on the first sip but wonderfully offset by the chocolate as you go along; the perfect way to perk you up mid-day without disturbing your circadian rhythm.

Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar, Shop No.2, Solace, 33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai  400 050. Phone: 75064 77710. Also at 47, VB Gandhi Marg, Opposite Knesseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 75065 77710

Healthy Meals Guide_005

Dinner

You can’t go wrong with a name like 212 All Good. Everything here comes with a side of “feel good”. Heck, even their cola is house-made. Though it doesn’t taste as good as Thums-Up, it has enough novelty to help you wash down your order. The goji berry chicken curry served with black rice pilaf and a broccoli and sweet potato sabzi will warm the cockles of your heart with its heartiness. It’s big on spice- so make sure you keep refilling that glass of house made cola.

212 All Good, Ground Floor, Grand West Zone, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 86550 12212

While pizza might not sound like the best option when you’re trying to eat healthy, Birdsong Cafe’s version is made on a gluten free base and topped with vegan cheese that tastes just as good as the real deal and will have your inner pizza lover doing the happy dance. Their minced lamb and olive pizza – a thin-crust pizza layered with a tangy sauce, minced lamb covering every inch, and a generous amount of cheese – is enough to make you want to eat it every day for dinner.

Birdsong – The Organic Cafe, Shop 1-5, Waroda Road, Near Jude Bakery, Hill Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai  400 050. Phone: 022 2642 3939

healthy food

If you’re wondering how I got through a full story on healthy eating without even so much as mentioning an avocado, fret not, there are special shout-outs to the the avocado toasts at The Pantry and Plenty. The former comes on crusty bread, decorated with pomegranate pearls, and tastes just as good as it looks; the latter is a lime-rubbed version that deserves paeans dedicated to it. No, I do not exaggerate or joke when it comes to food!

Plenty, 3-B Raja Bahadur Mansion, 24-A Mumbai Samachar Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2262 2020

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An Insider’s Guide To The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018

kala ghoda arts festival

AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

February is almost upon us, and South Mumbai is gearing up for the most-awaited annual arts and culture event – the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. What started as a festival restricted to one street has today, 19 years later, expanded to include 20 venues across Fort that play host to programs under 14 categories including dance, music, theatre, cinema, food and more. What has remained unchanged all through these years is the simple notion behind Kala Ghoda: of promoting the arts and culture and giving back to the city.

The festival is centred on a theme each year, and this year’s theme is Hara Ghoda: to promote a sustainable future for our planet.

I’ve worked for the second consecutive year on organising the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, and this is my insider’s guide to the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018.

Editor’s Note: The festival runs from February 3 to 11, 2018. Kindly check the festival website to confirm event times, which are subject to change.

Children

kala ghoda arts festival

We are handing our children a planet that has been abused beyond its capacity. And who better to save it from the clutches of decay than them

Agastya Foundation’s Faces of Gaia aims to help children build a relatable bond with the planet and to instil a consciousness that might just save the world. In this workshop, kids get to create a face for ‘Gaia’ or Mother Earth using her own elements like soil, pebbles, paints made with flowers, and more!

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Museum Gardens

Bittu Sahgal (founding editor of Sanctuary Asia) and his team take children on an exciting journey through wild India through stories, nature games, animal sounds, and more with In Nature’s Wonderland.

  • When: Sunday, 11th February, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Where: Museum Gardens

Children's Literature

kala ghoda arts festival

Isn’t it refreshing to know that a love for real books, the touch and feel kind, still exists and that too amongst the little ones? The Children's Literature workshops are precisely what we need to feed the love of these little bookworms.

Amrita Sher-Gil is regarded as one of the most notable, avant-garde women artists of the 20th century, and yet not too many adults, let alone kids, know about her. With Amrita Sher-Gil, Beyond the Canvas, Anita Vaccharajani aims to instil a love for the artist in the hearts of future art-lovers and patrons.

  • When: Friday, 9th February, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Kitab Khana

The Best Baker in the World might not sound like an adaptation of The Godfather, but that’s exactly what it is. Author Raja Sen and illustrator Vishal Bharadwaj weave this popular novel into a kid-friendly one, making this a definite must-do!

  • When: Saturday, 10th February, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Kitab Khana

Cinema

kala ghoda arts festival

With the price of going to the movies reaching near-criminal rates, free movie screenings sound like a gift from the heavens. At the Cinema section, you can not only catch both popular and elusive titles but also listen to the greats discuss cinema in India and all its nuances. This definitely wins over “Netflix and chill”.

It was only a matter of time before someone made a film on India’s favourite sexpert Dr. Mahinder Watsa who has been diligently replying to India’s (confounding) sex queries for many years now. Catch Ask the Sexpert and listen to the legend himself in conversation with Mayank Shekhar as he brings his acerbic wit and humour front and centre to field some more questions on sex and other topics.

  • When: Saturday, 3rd February, 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS

Set aside a full day for these cult films if you’re a true lover of the movies. There’s Angamaly Diaries, the brilliant Malayalam black comedy that has 86 debutant actors directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery; Thithi, a Kannada film with a cast of non-professional actors that has gained international acclaim at Locarno and made itself felt on the radars of Francis Ford Coppola and Wes Anderson; In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones, the 1989 film that sees Arundhati Roy as lead actress (and screenplay writer) and Shahrukh Khan in a bit role as a college senior, that went on to win two National Awards; and finally Local Kung Fu, India’s first Kung Fu film, all the way from Assam that has captured the imagination of film buffs.

  • When: Thursday, 8th February
  • Where: Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS, 2 p.m. onwards

Dance

 

The stage at Cross Maidan becomes the sacred ground for a celebration of dance over six days with both Indian and international acts holding court under the open skies.

If there is one performance that you watch make it that of MJ5 as they enthral you with 16 variations of the famous Moonwalk!

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 5:20 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

Food

kala ghoda arts festival

If you’re tired of scrolling through Instagram feeds full of food pictures, head to the Food section at the festival and get in on the action as chefs step out of the confines of their restaurants and teach you to whip it up in style.

In Exploring Hidden India, Chef Thomas Zacharias of the beloved The Bombay Canteen, takes you on a journey to explore the lesser-known Indian vegetables and how to cook them.

  • When: Saturday, 3rd February, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

And once you’ve learned how to cook like a Masterchef, you can click photos like one too with Food Photography 101 with Vinayak Grover. Time to seek revenge on all those who tortured you with their Insta feeds!

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Where: Artisans’

Literature

kala ghoda arts festival

Books > People. If you agree, the Literature section at the festival is where all your literary dreams come true. Here you’re not only exposed to the power of the word – both written and spoken – but you also have the opportunity to engage with your favourite authors – both Indian and international.

If you’re someone who has written their great novel but are struggling to get it published like all us lesser mortals, the session on What Publishers Want is just for you. Listen as representatives of Yoda Press, Oxford University Press, and Siyahi Literary Consultancy talk about what they look for in a manuscript as well as about the journey of the written word from manuscript to published novel.

  • When: Monday, 5th February, 7:40 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

Granthali publishes original Marathi books and translations with an aim to promoting a love for books and reading. Founded in 1974, Granthali has been at the forefront of Marathi literature. At the festival, the founders and mainstay, including Dinkar Gangal, discuss their experiment of a new model in publishing and distribution.

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

With a beautiful name like Hope Street Poets, this event promises a wonderful day full of poetry readings by the likes of Sahitya Akademi award winner Adil Jussawalla, Priya Sarukkai-Chhabria, Mustansir Dalvi, and more under the canopies in the gardens.

  • When: Wednesday, 7th February, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

Music

kala ghoda arts festival

The music stage at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival brings together people who share the common language of music. As in previous years, this is unsurprisingly the most highly anticipated section. There are acts both big and small that’ll have you tapping your feet, swaying your body and humming away over five days.

ONEmpire is indubitably Mumbai’s favourite band with a fan following that cuts across age that has as much to do with Zarir Warden’s charm as with their music. Witness the band as they play old favourites as well as some original tracks in their renewed avatar.

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 8:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

If you’re a lover of Bollywood classics, make sure to attend Beyond Imagination’s Tribute to Pyarelal. Beyond Imagination will throwback to the days of orchestra and live studio recordings as they belt out popular numbers composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

  • When: Monday, 5th February, 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

An open-air venue + free entry + Ustad Zakir Hussain on his tablas. Need I say more?

  •    When: Thursday, 8th February, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  •    Where: Cross Maidan

Stalls

kala ghoda arts festival

If, like me, you enjoy the shopping opportunities that the festival has to offer, here’s an insider’s tip: come on a weekday before lunch, because that’s when you can browse and shop in peace without large crowds ruining the experience for you.

  • Greensole is a unique initiative that up-cycles old shoe soles into new shoes and donates them to kids in villages who have to walk miles to get to school. Luckily for us, you can get your hands on these pieces too. They will also have a donation bin where you can junk those old running shoes without feeling a pinch of guilt.
  • Bhomra Design Co. has dresses in pop colours that’ll make you feel like you’re the embodiment of spring. What’s more special is all the dresses at the store have been fashioned out of traditional Bengali weaves. J’adore! or better yet, Bhalo!
  • Last Forest works with indigenous farmers and employs fair trade practices to create the most divine honey, jams, herbs, spices, soaps, and more.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts are an often overlooked yet critical part of the festival. Besides bringing aesthetic value to the venues and providing the general look and feel, the installations present ideas of a few that can be interpreted by many in as many different ways. These installations are thought-provoking, engaging and reflective.

KGAF 2020 is an exhibit organised by a coalition of artists, architects, performers and filmmakers who will present site-specific architecture housing installations, performance art, sound art, sculptures, interactive utopias and dystopias, etc. to provide the audience with an idea of what the future might hold in store.

  • When: 3rd to 11th February
  • Where: Horniman Circle Gardens

Workshops

kala ghoda arts festival

Few things can parallel the joy of learning something new, and when that learning comes without a fee, why would anyone choose otherwise? The Workshops section at the festival is where you can pick up a new skill, engage in new ideas and, at the very least, kill a few hours productively.

Coffee addicts unite! Mithilesh Vazalwar, a former junior roaster at Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, who turned his love for coffee into a career, will teach you how to Be Your Own Barista so you can actually enjoy good coffee in your home and save your salary that you’ve been thus far wasting on badly-made coffee.

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

If you’re looking for some inspiration in life in general, come listen to Find Your Own Everest, a talk by Kuntal Joisher on how he built a healthy body and mind to become the first vegan to summit Mt. Everest from the South side.

  • When: Friday, 9th February, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

Nutrition in today’s day and age has become one of the most complicated areas in a person’s life. What’s needed is a simplification and a back to the roots philosophy. Rekha Diwekar’s Chemistry in the Kitchen aims to do just that with a talk on eating using the latest in nutritional science combined with traditional wisdom.

  • When: Sunday, 11th February, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

For more information on festival programs and venues, log on to the festival website.

The Heritage District Is Home To Kala Ghoda Café

THE HERITAGE DISTRICT IS HOME TO KALA GHODA CAFÉ

Kala Ghoda Café is situated inside a 20th Century barn in a quiet lane in Kala Ghoda. They offer organic coffees, teas, and infusions, as well as a range of snacks and salads. All their breads are freshly baked at the café itself.

Kala Ghoda Café, Bharthania Building, A Block, 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2265 0195

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR'S STORY

How does a modern-day café hold its own in the city’s heritage precinct? I wondered before walking into (for the first time ever) Kala Ghoda Café many years after it had opened and gained favour amongst the “it” crowd. I’d heard so many people talk so favourably about KGC, and all I could think was, “But it’s just another café, right?” I’ve never been happier to be proven so wrong.

It was wet, gloomy, and depressing outside that evening, the way most monsoon evenings are in the city. One step inside the café, and the glow of the light combined with the promise of good great coffee is all it took for my spirits to lift (I suspect the coffee had a lot to do with that). It’s been three years since that day, and after multiple post-run breakfasts with a sweaty crew, post-lunch indulgences with the best chocolate cake in Mumbai the world, and endless meetings over coffee, I still don’t have an answer for how this modern-day café holds its own and fits right in. It could be because of the charm of being created inside a 20th Century barn. It could be because of their signature blend of organic, home-grown coffee and guilt-free, freshly baked breads. It could be because the owner encourages the patrons to be ecologically conscious and walk or bike to the café. Or it could be because it’s a picturesque, stand-alone space reminiscent of the cafés we visit on holiday – a rarity amidst the homogenised, soulless multitudes of chain cafés that have infiltrated this city.

Photograph courtesy Kala Ghoda Café

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A Runners’ Guide To Outdoor Routes In Mumbai

outdoor running route mumbai

A RUNNERS' GUIDE TO OUTDOOR ROUTES IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

So you’ve signed up for the marathon, laced up your shoes, and headed out the door. Good for you! With more than five months left for race day, you have plenty of time to train and reach your goal time. We asked some runners about where they run in the city, so you can mix it up and try different running routes to avoid monotony and explore the city in the early-morning light.

Suman Srivastava on Bandra’s Bylanes

Suman Srivastava 1_200pxSix a.m. Before the city really wakes up is the best time for a run. The peace and quiet is so...

Just then a noisy bus passes by, followed by a macho motorcycle. So much for peace and quiet. I start from Otters Club, run past Joggers Park, through Old Kantwadi, and into Chimbai Village. I love this place early in the morning. The food places haven’t opened yet, and the fish vendors haven’t made it either.

I reach St. Andrews Church, daunted by the prospect of running on Hill Road. But I duck into Waroda Road, past the back entrance of A-1 Bakery, which is already doing roaring business.

I hurry on to Veronica Street. The narrow lane suddenly widens into Ranwar Village Square, filled with cars parked for the night. I wonder how they got here. Admiring a cross on the side of the road, I proceed towards St. Veronica Road, noting the slight difference in road names. I run as fast as I can, past Lilavati Hospital and the sound of traffic, towards my destination – the Sea Link Promenade: the best promenade in Bandra – quiet surroundings, better underfoot conditions and a choice of running paths.

I head back to the villages after my run. A-1 Bakery’s early crowd has thinned, and that fish in Chimbai looks really fresh. Breakfast anyone?

Bhavika Thakkar on Siri Road

bhavika-thakkarSiri Road, an obscure lane that connects Chowpatty to Kamala Nehru Park, is every runner’s dream. Here’s why.

1. It is drivable only up to a point, which means there are no cars honking at you or hustling you off the road. The peace and seclusion is like a shock to the system.

Siri Road – 1 Mumbai Motorists – 0

2. It provides the challenge of an uphill run, a rarity in lovely old Mumbai. I share a love-hate relationship with uphill runs, but they’re great for building stamina and resistance training. I can’t really complain unless I want to run on the beach with a parachute on my back. (That’s a story for another time)

Siri Road – 2 My lazy ass – 0

3. It’s oh-so-pretty! In summer, the running path is lined with yellow flowers, and everything glows green in the monsoon. When you reach the top, you’re rewarded with a glimpse of the sea. If I weren’t running, I’d write poetry about the view.

Siri Road – 3 Concrete Jungle – 0

I can go on, but I suggest you put on your running shoes and give this route a try. Once you’re done cursing me, you’ll thank me for letting you in on this secret.

App used to track runs: Nike Run Club

Kainaz Messman on Marine Drive

kainaz_200pxMy running route begins at one end of Marine Drive at NCPA (the starting point for any runner in South Mumbai). From there it's straight up to Walkeshwar and back for a 12km run. Or, if you want to hit 15 kms, take a right turn at the end of Marine Drive toward Babulnath, onward to Haji Ali and back. The highlight of this route is that Dave farsan mart is open and frying fresh samosas, even at 5:30 a.m. Obviously I don’t eat any, but I do get a good whiff as I pass by. I love Marine Drive because it's the one place in Mumbai where commoners like us get an unrestricted view of the sea without any noise or pollution at that early hour. We get to see the sunrise as we run, and everyone is in such a good mood.

App used to track runs: None! No watches and no gadgets. Just myself, my thoughts, or my running partner.

Prashant Rao on Juhu Beach

prashant_200pxMumbai has an often overlooked but always mostly available beachfront in Juhu. From the tip (connected to Khar Koliwada by a make-shift floating bridge) to the end (which is separated from Versova Beach by a sludgy creek) it is approximately 5km long.

Running on sand is more difficult than running on a flat surface and is excellent for training. Some tips for running on Juhu Beach:

1. Be aware of the tide calendar. The high tide eats up the beach almost completely.

2. Some days are completely avoidable: the days after the Eids, the days of the Big Ganesh Visarjans, the Chatth Puja days, and also high tide Sundays, when all of the city comes to the beach, “hawa khane ke liye”.

3. Its best to avoid the edges of the beach (near Juhu Koliwada and beyond the Godrej Bungalow) after sundown. There are reports of people getting mugged there. These ends are also where a lot of people empty their bowels, so running here involves watching your step and keeping your focus.

App used to track runs: Nike Run Club

Bhavika Thakkar on Priyadarshini Park

The presence of the sea – and option to run along the coast – makes up for the scant running route options in Mumbai.  While Girgaum Chowpatty is accessible, the days of low tide are few and far between. This is where Priyadarshini Park comes to the rescue. Here the sea is within touching distance, yet far enough to retain its magical allure.

Priyadarshini Park is rather compact, so unlike Marine Drive, I never use it as a stand-alone running track but as part of a longer route that covers the slopes of Walkeshwar and Malabar Hill. One deep breath of the salt-kissed air and my fatigue vanishes. I feel like I can go on running. The runner’s high coupled with the sight of sun's rays glinting off the waves beats any intoxicant in the world.

First time participating? Here are some tips for first timers and older runners from running coach Edgar Mascaraehnas

edgar_200pxThe most common mistake runners make (especially first timers) is not doing enough resistance training, especially for the legs. Muscles supporting the joints around the knees, ankles and lower back bear the brunt of the impact and have to be strengthened.

CORE STRENGTH is the key to well supported joints and preventing injury. So besides practicing running, make sure you’re attaining a decent level of core and lower body strength before you attempt any long runs. With marathon training, staying injury free is probably the most difficult as the body is pushed to its limits. Incorporate a day or two of resistance training/core conditioning per week. 

Another aspect of training is the RECOVERY phase. How do you recover from those long runs, before you do another? Perhaps the best way to recover post a run is an ICE bath (easier said than done), but ice packs work around joints and stiff muscles. With every effort and attempt to train harder, REST becomes more significant to avoid injury. 

In terms of NUTRITION, think of the body as a machine like a car that needs fuel. Proper nutritional intake, pre-run, post-run and during recovery phases will enhance your performance greatly.

Maintaining a proper POSTURE while running is something all first time runners have to work on. This includes trying to maintain an almost erect or tall body position while running. Ideally a five to 10 per cent forward lean posture is perfect, staying relaxed at the shoulders and arms, with least displacement of hips and shoulder while running. Once again all this comes from core conditioning/stability.

Start from Worli Sea Face, run along the sea face, go past NSCI towards Haji Ali, up Peddar Road, Kemps Corner towards Girgaum Chowpatty, and all the way to NCPA...that is about 11km. You can run back to Worli Sea Face for an approximately 22km run.

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8 Questions with Nupur Joshi-Thanks of Paper Planes

nupur joshi paper planes

8 QUESTIONS WITH NUPUR JOSHI-THANKS OF PAPER PLANES

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

As a kid, I was always fascinated by paper planes; the thought that I could fashion a plane out of a square piece of paper and make it fly across the room gave me the tingles. My heart soared along with the plane, and I repeatedly made it fly till it was bent out of shape. Then came the next square of paper and on it went. Few things bring such unadulterated joy to a grown-up, except maybe actually flying in a real plane to an unexplored destination and books: the smell of a new book, hearing the crisp turn of the page, watching the words come together to make a story. Pure bliss.

Imagine my delight then when I heard about Paper Planes, a website that offers subscription to indie magazines from the world over. Tingles all over again! I subscribed to the service in an instant, and as I now wait patiently for the stack of magazines to arrive at my doorstep, I interviewed the founder of Paper Planes, Nupur Joshi-Thanks, whose love for reading and belief that the breed of readers who pick up a real book are not dead yet led to the birth of Paper Planes.

nupur joshi paper planes

TCS: How did the idea of Paper Planes come about?

NJT: Sabbaticals are known to have done wonders for people – I owe this steady descent into magazine madness to my sabbatical. I have always been fond of reading magazines – but I got introduced to this breed of print magazines while on a break from the world of M&A and private equity. I came across a review of an indie magazine online and, following up on the review, I eventually ended up ordering a few indie magazines. Once these magazines arrived at my doorstep, there was no looking back. I found myself placing orders for one magazine after another, fascinated with the passion driven content and high production value.

TCS: The name Paper Planes has a bit of childhood nostalgia attached to it. How did you decide on it?

NJT: Mostly because much of my magazine reading happened in-flight, and I wanted to convey the feeling of being high on paper.

TCS: The magazines on offer are not your everyday magazines. There's Filmme Fatales (a feminist film zine), Monocle (a global affairs/lifestyle magazine), and a whole eclectic range across genres. What is the thought behind the magazines that make it to the service?

NJT: Quality content and new ideas; of course, it’s important that these are independently published.

TCS: How does the subscription service work?

NJT: We invite subscribers to join us on our journey of discovering new and exciting indie magazines from across the world – one new title every month. One can indicate genres of their interest at the time of signing up. We curate the magazine titles depending on this choice; although you never know which title turns up at your doorstep, which adds to the fun. After all, what fun is discovery without a little bit of adventure? We currently have three different subscription plans – monthly, six months and 12 months.

In addition to the subscription service, we also have an online store where we regularly stock titles that are popular with our readers, and any one can buy it and one need not be a subscriber.

TCS: At a time when all reading has gone online and is available at the click of a button, to have a website that offers subscription to tangible magazines is almost a novelty. Do you think people still have the capacity for deferred gratification?

NJT: Enough people to keep this idea afloat. I just thought that reading anything good out there is a must – be it print or otherwise. It’s not like we expect people to just read print and nothing more. As long as there is good content, one must find a way to read it and that alone is the motivation of sharing these magazines.

TCS: Besides an online presence, you also have presence in certain lifestyle stores. Tell us more about that.

NJT: Yes, we partner with retail stores and creative spaces across major cities in India to reach a larger like-minded audience and introduce them to these fascinating titles. For instance, we are at all stores of Nappa Dori, Pepper House (Kochi), The Project Café (Ahmedabad). So far, we are in Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Kochi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and will soon be in Chennai.

TCS: You had a launch event for CEREAL magazine recently, and there's another in the pipeline for the launch of Gather Journal. What's the idea behind having a launch party?

NJT: We are keen to introduce new titles to our audience in India. The launch events allow us to showcase the magazines and what they offer to the audience. The titles that we are introducing via launch events are exclusively distributed in India by us.

With CEREAL, we got the opportunity to showcase the stunning photography, which the title is recognized for. We are now thrilled to be celebrating the release of Gather Journal. Gather is a recipe-driven food magazine dedicated to the many aspects of gathering: to dine, to drink, to harvest, and to cook. Winner of a James Beard Award and five Society of Publication Designers Gold Medals, this one is truly a hoarder’s fantasy-in-the-flesh!

The idea is simply for people to get to know the title better and come to see why we love it so much!

Considering we’re in a city that’s known for its food culture and is home to some of the best food critics/writers in the country, we thought it would be perfect to bring together people to share food anecdotes for an audience that truly appreciates it – much like the magazine itself, which is all about sharing food stories.

The aim of the session is to explore the sense of taste by tying it with nostalgia and the idea of story-telling. Using the space BARO is giving us, we hope to create an environment that is warm and intimate. Our guest speakers for the evening will share their stories – from food discoveries to memorable food tales. Speakers include Vikram Doctor, Kurush Dalal, Rohini Bajaj amongst others. This release is being organised in collaboration with Bombay Perfumery and will be hosted at BARO.

TCS: If you had to recommend three titles/zines to a first-time user, what would you recommend?

NJT: The Happy Reader; Weapons of Reason; Gather Journal

Tickets for the launch party of Gather Journal on July 15 are available online. You can purchase a copy of the magazine from here.

The City Story is media partner for the event.

Chivda Galli Is A Win For Everyone

chivda galli dinshaw petit road lalbaug parel

CHIVDA GALLI IS A WIN FOR EVERYONE

Dinshaw Petit Road in Lalbaug is colloquially known as “Chivda Galli”, a small lane with a concentration of chivda shops. Many shop owners who now sell chivda were earlier spice vendors, and you can find red chillies drying in the sun outside the shops that still sell spices.

Dinshaw Petit Road, Lalbaug, Parel, Mumbai 400 012

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR'S STORY

A chance detour into a small by-lane while figuring out the best way out of my new home in Parel brought me to Chivda Galli. As I drove along, the smell of chivda was so strong, it compelled me to follow; and of course, the Gujarati in me was only too happy. Farsan FTW!

It’s difficult to explain where exactly the lane is, but ask anyone in the area under the Lalbaug flyover and they will give you precise directions. The origins of the lane can be traced back to 1965, when a solitary chivda seller opened shop here. Back then, Bombay was the city of mills and the surrounding area was the hub. Since then, 15-odd shops have opened for business and they all make chivda in an abundance of varieties. Chivda, for the uninitiated is a snack made primarily with flattened rice, peanuts, fried lentils, and peanuts and flavoured with spices and curry leaves.

As you walk towards Chivda Galli, you will first be greeted by the sight of red chillies by the dozens left to dry out in the sun. That’s because Chivda Galli is preceded by a number of shops selling freshly-ground spices. In fact, many shop owners who now sell chivda were earlier spice vendors who jumped ship when they saw how profitable the chivda business was! Despite the concentration of numerous shops in one lane, there is enough business to go around and no animosity between the many shop owners. It’s a win for everyone, chivda sellers and chivda lovers alike.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira

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The New Face Of The Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower

Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower

THE NEW FACE OF THE BOMANJEE HORMARJEE WADIA CLOCK TOWER

Built in 1882, the Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower at Fort had fallen into disrepair in recent times – the clock face was shattered and its hands stolen. In 2016, the Kala Ghoda Association commissioned conservation architect Vikas Dilawari to restore the clock tower. Its central portion rises a floor and houses the bell mechanism; above it is a tower with clock faces on all four sides.

Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower, Perin Nariman Street, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai 400 001.

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR'S STORY

The Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Clock Tower stands magnificently where the the bustling Bazaar Gate Road meets Perin Nariman Street in Fort. The clock tower was erected in 1882 with money raised by public subscription to honour the work of the philanthropist it is named after.

In recent years, the tower commanded no attention because of haphazard painting jobs and botched restoration efforts. In 2016 the Kala Ghoda Association stepped in and commissioned conservation architect Vikas Dilawari to save the clock tower from the clutches of decay. In February this year the tower was unveiled, restored to all its former glory.

Layers of paint were peeled off to reveal the “Aatash” or flame that stands atop the actual clock. The architectural style borrows from the Persepolis style much like other Parsi religious buildings, and there are cuneiform writings above the opening lintels on three sides that were selected from the copies of a rock inscription at Behstoon in Persia but have so far not been translated. The structure itself is built principally with yellow buff basalt stone from the Malad quarry, while its statuary and parapet cornices are made of grayish-blue basalt from the Kurla quarry.

The original clock tower was constructed in a crowded place, a chowk, to serve the need of the people – the lower level holds two basalt troughs on the East and West, which originally catered to the need of thirsty passers-by – in the spirit of the philanthropic, and it also served the dual purpose of showing the time to the residents of the area. The clock moves on and time pushes forward, but the Wadia Clock Tower stands sentinel-like, reminiscent of a time gone-by.

Photographs courtesy the Kala Ghoda Association.

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10 Questions With Pahadi Local’s Jessica Jayne

pahadi local luxury natural skincare

10 QUESTIONS WITH PAHADI LOCAL’S JESSICA JAYNE

Pahadi Local makes luxury skincare products from local, natural ingredients available in Himachal Pradesh, including Gutti Ka Tel (apricot kernel oil), Khal (apricot meal scrub), Pull (lake sediment detox salt), and Markalak (mineral rich Himalayan clay). The brand also sets up Pahadi Pure Experiences in venues and pop up events with a tea lounge and foot spa to enable potential users to try, touch, taste and feel the products first hand.

Pahadi Local products are available at Good Earth stores around Mumbai. You can also shop for the products on their website.

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR'S INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA JAYNE

Remember when “turmeric latte” became a thing, and all of India collectively went “huh?”, thinking about all the times our grandmothers forced us to drink that vile, yellow stuff as kids and we resisted it with all our might? Or the time that coconut oil became the one solution to everyone’s problems around the world and we cringed thinking of the times our mothers forced us to oil our hair and we cried like it was the end of the world? And finally, after all this, the time when realisation dawned that we’ve been stupidly wasting all our hard-earned money on all these pricey, imported products when everything we need has always been right here and available for a quarter of the price?

Unlike the vast majority of us, Jessica Jayne was quicker on the uptake. Born and raised in Mumbai, she moved to the mountains some years ago, and it was there that she discovered the truth in the beauty and wellness secrets that have been handed down to us from generation to generation. Pahadi Local was thus born. As pure as the rarified mountain air and free of additives/preservatives, Pahadi Local products, which include Gutti ka Tel (apricot kernel oil) and Pull (lake sediment detoxification salt) amongst others, are packed with goodness that radiates into the very philosophy driving the brand.

The City Story sat down for an interview that turned into a freewheeling chat with the force behind it all.

pahadi local luxury natural skincare jessica jayne

TCS: It all started out with just you, your mother, your friend and an office boy working out of your home, and today Pahadi Local is a successful brand. Take us through the journey.

JJ: Homegrown. That's what Pahadi Local's journey has been about. I was sending Gutti ka Tel from Shimla, my mother was bottling the oil at home in pretty glass bottles, my good friend Kanika was marketing it to our friends and network in Mumbai, while my office boy did the delivery. Three years later, we work out of an office! I have partnered with an old friend whom I trust completely, Udit Sheth, who is a strategic investor. We have a board of directors, advisors and team members who look specifically into procurement, sourcing, quality control, lab testing, logistics, distribution, warehousing, marketing and so on.

TCS: Pahadi Local emphasises its back-to-the-roots philosophy. How important do you think that is in today’s tidal wave of consumerism?

JJ: I think there is a fair market share of consumers who have and are making a conscious choice to go back to basics by keeping it real – as pure and natural as possible to avoid the adverse affects of our previous choices especially in skincare and consumables.

TCS: Yours is a sustainable luxury brand – sustainable being the operative word, where you give back to the source. Tell us about the people who are this source.

JJ: Giving back to the source is the foundation and philosophy of Pahadi Local. It is easy to make a claim that we are sustainable, but being true to our commitment to source is what gives us a satisfaction at the end of the day. I'm lucky that my business partners share this responsibility as vehemently as I do. This is the soul of Pahadi Local. We work with structures mirroring cooperatives to ensure fair trade and also have a royalty-to-source programme with a few of our products.

pahadi local luxury natural skincare

TCS: Who is someone you look up to or whose business ethic do you admire? Why? And how does that permeate into the work you do every day?

JJ; I admire every single person who works hard and honestly to make a living. Everybody can teach you something that can be a big takeaway for your life. For me, I admire the righteousness of an auto driver who will return an iPhone you left behind. That for me is ethic.

I read about the most successful people and look up to Richard Branson who built his empire by respecting his workforce from ground up.

I believe in being hands-on, which sometimes comes across as an obsession of sorts! Right from product identification, supplier relationships, packaging, styling, creating a vibe for our media channels – I’ve done it myself. While I am building my vision for brand Pahadi Local, I am supported by my team and can call on them at anytime for help. That is what makes it easier today. Many of my close friends who are photographers, businessmen and industry experts have gone out of their way to help me on my way. This is what builds a homegrown business.

TCS: Pahadi Local exudes this “feel-good” quality. How does that translate into the way your customers engage with the products/ brand?

JJ: Pahadi Local is a real brand. It stands for all things pure and bringing to you the goodness of the Hills, which is why feel-good is the default quality that permeates from the brand. I think customers have begun to trust us. We are as true as what we may seem. Girl next door – someone who lived in the hills, could be you or me and discovered these magical pure local products and now she's decided to share it with everyone in the cities.

This personal connect is the biggest engagement we have with our customers. They give me a chance and try our lesser-known products, they end up loving it and appreciating our initiative and slowly this base has begun to grow exponentially.

We believe in experience. Pahadi Pure Experiences are set up in venues and pop up events with a tea lounge and foot spa to enable potential users to try, touch, taste and feel our products first hand.

pahadi local luxury natural skincare

TCS: Describe Pahadi Local in three words.

JJ: Luxury in Simplicity

TCS: What is your one go to beauty product from Pahadi Local?

JJ: Gutti ka Tel: our orchard fresh, pure apricot kernel oil. I use it head to toe. As a body moisturiser, eye make-up remover, post work out body massage oil, hair oil, and face oil!

TCS: What beauty/wellness/life advice would you like to give our readers?

JJ: Keep it simple. Make a conscious choice for a better and more balanced lifestyle. We owe it to ourselves.

TCS: What is the future of Pahadi Local?

JJ: We plan to align with brands that share our philosophy of fair trade and sustainability. Right now we have partnered with Good Earth stores across India, and that kind of support and encouragement paves our future path. We are looking into new offerings and new markets and will hopefully be able to share the “Goodness of the Hills” globally, soon.

TCS: Mumbai or the mountains?

JJ: I'm learning to balance the best of both 🙂