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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lotus stem also known as Kamal Kakri

The other day, one of my friends, who returned from her Kashmir trip had an urge to eat the delicious lotus root that she had so enjoyed in Kashmir. Unfortunately, she could not find in the market in Delhi. It’s a rare thing and not many vegetable vendors sell it. This is usually available at Chinese stores as canned food or if you like fresh stem, then it is normally found in the areas where Sindhi community lives. Lotus stem, also known as Kamal Kakri or Bhien, it is regularly cooked in Sindhi homes.

I had posted in detail the recipe of 'Lotus stem in potatoes' at

I have this recipe ‘Bhugal Bhee Vadi’ in my cookbook #SindhiCuisine on page 64. My friend Anita Mantri, tried the recipe and send me back her feedback. She writes “It bought back nostalgic memories when your mom fed us with utmost love. It was so close to the original taste.”

Lotus stem made its regular appearance in my home during growing up years. Mom used to spend hours cleaning each pore of the stem with a cotton bud. I used to hate the hair-like fiber that would cling to my cheek as I took the bit off the cooked chunk.
Lotus stems were cooked during every family festivals and celebrations, it was considered as the favorite vegetarian substitute. Being very versatile, sometimes it was mashed and rolled into koftas to make kofta curry, sometimes coated with gram flour and deep fried, sometimes chopped finely and paired with carrots and sometimes clubbed with dried mushrooms. In every style it tasted fabulous. Crunchy, delicate, water chestnut like flavor and visually appealing too I enjoyed it a lot.

Today I wanted to make lotus stem again, but there were no onions in my pantry. Should I make Chinese or should I stick to Indian style. My maid had already made chappatis for me, so Chinese was out, couldn’t possibly eat Chinese with chappatis. No way.

The next option was to make in tomatoes. So here is my recipe of Lotus Stem in Tomato gravy.

200gms lotus stem
200gms potatoes
1tbsp oil
1 crushed cardamom
pinch of asafetida
2-3 curry leaves
1/2inch grated garlic
1 large tomato
1/2tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
coriander leaves for garnishing

1.    The delicious lotus stem should be cut into thin strips at a slant and pressure-cooked.
2.    In a pan heat oil.
3.    Add cardamom, asafetida, curry leaves, ginger and tomatoes.
4.    Add potatoes and lotus stem.
5.    Add turmeric powder and salt.
6.    Add half of cup water.
7.    Cover and let it cook till potatoes are tender.
8.    Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serves 2 persons

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hoppipolla comes to Mumbai

In 80’s College canteen was the place where youngster used to hang out. In between lectures, youngsters slipped into canteen to enjoy the fun times over cup of tea, sometimes sitting long hours on those wooden benches, it was a good place to while away the time, where  new friends were made, food was shared and days passed well in laughter and games. But things have changed. Presently, Mumbai is full of such hangout, dotted in different parts of the city and Hoppipolla is the new addition for youngsters to laze around over glass of beer.

Hoppipolla that literally means ‘hopping in the puddles’ is inspired from the song by Icelandic band Sigor Ros from their 2005 album. And that is the idea adopted by this restaurant that makes its debut appearance in Mumbai after its success in Bangalore and Pune.

Although the restaurant has some strict rules, it is a fun place where young and old can shed off their age difference and engage in fun activities over pastas, pizzas and drinks.The prices are affordable ranging from as low as Rs90 for peanut bhel to Rs295 for a hard drink.

The restaurant is separated into two sections: AC and non-AC.

Sit anywhere, the ambience is vibrant. The high ceiling interior has props like air planes, there is a huge bar and an open kitchen, one of the walls is decorated with trophy cups, the winners hold the trophy and enjoy one minute of fame by posing for a picture after having won some game or competition. A quiet Video corner had indoor board games and comic too to bring alive the child in them. I saw one set of youngster enjoying the game of Taboo and Jenga over the cups of Sangrias.

Non-AC area is in the open, surrounded by trees, birdhouses decorate one of the walls that have surprise elements behind the tiny door.

All tables have black granite top on which people can doodle with colored chalk, while they wait for their order to arrive.

There was a great variety that restaurant had to offer

Must try their drink watermelon with basil.

I loved the presentations. A special mention to Crispy pizzas with meat balls which was a delight. Finger foods were served in colorful crockery of bright vibrant colors, blues, orange, red, etc. that can attract even a person who is high on alcohol.

I was disappointed with seafood dishes like Fish and chips, shrimps and fish fingers. They were too salty. I was drooling at the first glance of Fish and Chips, the presentation was tempting but I immediately looked for large spittoon after the first bite. It was pretty terrible.

Unfortunately, there are no hot beverages like tea and coffee nor are there any desserts, the restaurant believes in the pleasure of hard drinks, the games like gulping down endless glasses of beer in seconds is the new pastime for youngsters.

Although they have board games comics and books to keep the youngsters occupied at the restaurant, I am not sure if this concept is going to last for long. Youngster might stay in the restaurant for example, maybe 5-6 hours at a stretch, engrossed in group activities or other board games but they may not continuously eat or drink…that means that although there is crowd of youngsters having fun, restaurant sales may not shoot up because tables may not be vacant for new customers to walk in, and that is the bad news for restaurant looking for business.

However, this is a great place to be for fun afternoon to enjoy the game or two over drinks, or to enjoy loud music at the bar till late nights. There is a big screen at one end of the room, which may come alive on Karaoke nights or on those days when there is live telecast of football or cricket match.

I heard many youngsters say that they would love to hang out at this Hoppipola… It did appeal to them…
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