I was home today with a bad back.
I lay in bed and read Anthony Bourdain's 'A Cook's Tour'. My mind begun to wonder to the fridge and to some of its contents - chicken liver, Feta which I bought from Sante yesterday, Sundried tomato pesto from Olio - soon steamy images begun to conjure themselves in my mind as I whipped up some rice, microwave mooshuri daal and Eelish fry for a convalescent lunch.
I stepped out in the evening. First to Candies. There was the usual 8 PM '25 pc off' rush. Teeming multitudes. The counter seemed miles away. I caught Ashish of the cash counter's eye and soon walked off with a smile and baguette. Then went down to Pali Naka and picked some red roses for the Missus and for the house. Back to the chirpy bhaji wali at Pali Market. Basil. Sweet corn. Smiled when she took back the apparently stale ones I picked and gave me a fresh set. Popped into Sante's. Said hi to Milanda. Discussed my plans to make a salad with chicken liver and feta. She voiced her concern about two sharp tastes in the same dish. We talked a bit more and then I took the alley home after picking some litchis for Kainaz. I know that this sounded like Julia Child in drag. Remember when she goes skipping down the French markets in the film? But still, the little walk made me happy and left me with a pleasant buzz.
I know that I have written about Sante's before but the place is growing on me. And not just because of the great cheeses and meats. Picked up an amazing red hot Edam this time. A couple of visits back I noticed a lovely lady there telling someone about different cooking creams and how they should be added to the end of a tomato based sauce and not at the beginning. I was enthralled. And intrigued. I bumped into her yesterday too. She turned out to be Mrs Milanda Jagtiani, the Director of Sante. We got talking and I begun to trip on her love for, and knowledge of, food. The sort of person I can spend hours talking with. I learnt that the best way to judge the quality of meat in a shop is through the pinkness and freshness of its cooked meats viz. the hams. Apparently 'cured' meats - Chorrizo, Serrano, Bacon - taste fine even after their sell by dates. I wanted to buy their Melba toasts. She insisted that I try them first as they were home made and thicker according to her. They were heavenly and went well with the chicken pesto pate that K & I made later last night. I asked her about cous and cous as an option for office lunches. She suggested that I add vegetables to it and was even willing to come with me to the vegetable shop when I professed my veggie challenged state. I was impressed to learn that they make the dips and desserts fresh at her house close by. The chocolate brownie cheesecakes and chocolate éclairs (thanks Menaka for introducing us to these) at Sante are to die for. And as Milanda and I agreed, brownie cheesecakes are intense and you don't really need large portions of these unlike what you tend to get elsewhere. I sampled a French Feta before leaving. Loved it as it was nice and creamy and different from the one I picked at KL recently. Milanda pointed out the crumbly feta that I bought at KL was the original one. The French feta was faux according to her and customised to our urban palates. I picked it up in any case and feasted on the Feta with Melba Toas latert. I am not surprised that I went back to say hello today.
And here's how my afternoon dreams took the shape of the Nomad's Salad. A Karmakar original. 'Nomad', because I used feta, pesto, basil and olive oil favoured by those in the arid lands of the Mediterranean. Plus it is a tribute to Bandra. Home to all. From all over. A place where you get everything at your arms reach. As Milanda and I agreed, we are really blessed to be in Bandra.
Here's the recipe:
- 250 g chicken liver, chopped into pieces and sautéed in olive oil, salt and pepper
- 250 g baby corn put in water and boiled in the micro for 7 minutes
- Put together in a salad bowl with around 10 basil leaves, a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto, half a finely chopped tomato, a handful of Feta cubes. The mix is lightly tossed/ stirred/ folded
- We had this with baguettes and Mamma's sautéed potatoes
It tasted amazing. Light, ethereal, slightly sweet, backed by the resounding solidity of the chicken liver. The sweetness of the sweet corn and sun-dried tomato pesto coupled with the minty freshness of basil counter balanced the sharpness of feta and liver to fuse into homogeneous bliss. A Karmakar Original. Very easy to make and guaranteed to impress your dinner mates. Feta is supposed to be a low cholesterol cheese.