Nalli Nihari to Porcini. The belated 15th anniversary post

22nd October, 2016
22nd October 2001

I have no recollection of what we ate the day we got married fifteen years, a week and three days back

What I do remember is that lunch was at a buffet at a place called Starters and More. The guest list didn’t go into double figures and consisted of immediate family in Mumbai. Starters and More has shut down since then. 

We were earlier at the court near the Asiatic Library for the marriage, post which we had lovely dry fruits packed mithai got by uncle J from Trupti Sweets.

For dinner that day we went to Gallops at the Race Course. K and I had gone there the week before we got married. I had personally selected the dishes for our wedding dinner. 

The problem is that I have no idea now what the dishes were. 

When I asked K about it, she said, “there was mutton.”

Nihari at Gallops

Since then we have discovered, and becomes fans of, the nalli nihari at Gallops, and hence the name for this post.

I didn’t have the blog then to record what was happening in my life. 

That was 2001 after all!

We didn’t have digital cameras, or phones with cameras, to take endless pictures that day. Just my dad’s Pentax SLR (not DSLR). Since I didn’t know how to change the film roll, I had to ensure that between the court wedding,  the lunch, the homecoming and the dinner, I didn’t exceed 36 clicks. Remember those days? 

Which is why I hadn’t clicked table-top pictures of the food that we ate on our wedding. I think there is a picture of us all outside Gallops and if I find our wedding album, I will post the picture later.


15 years on,  today I have my blog to record memories. The ones I am fine with sharing of course!

I take food pictures by the dozen on my iPhone. Which is why K says she has forgotten the taste of hot food. I have to photograph everything we eat before eating, for you and for me.

So here’s what we ate on our 15th  wedding anniversary on last Saturday.

Chicken sandwich and double shot cappuccino and green tea for breakfast at Candies.

Our Soka Gakkai friends had come over to chant after that. I ordered some chitrakut (a square pantua like sweet) from Sweet Bengal through Swiggy for them. 

The Hyatt Regency Mumbai anniversary treat

A lovely anniversary gift from
The Hyatt Regency Mumbai

Our home for a night at the Hyatt Regency Mumbai
K and I then checked into the Hyatt Regency Mumbai who hosted us on our anniversary. 

Lunch was room service. Grilled fish and soup.

Cook with Hyatt and the Smile Foundation
In the evening I got an opportunity to be a part of a vey happy event called with Cook With Hyatt where corporate head honchos cooked with young children from the SMILE Foundation.  I was a judge for the event along with Ranveer Brar and Nikhil Merchant, friends I had made thanks to my blog. 

What touched me the most about the evening was how everyone - the hotel staff, the CEOs, the SMILE Foundation folks and the audience - made the children feel so comfortable and at home. The smiles shone through the massive banquet hall that evening.

The food on offer from the contestants was pretty good too.

The Children from the SMILE Foundation
Cooking for the corporates

Mentors and the future stars
With my fellow judges

The winners

My fellow judges, Nikhil Merchant in the white jacket
Ranveer Brar in red

A happy evening with some bright and talented kids

The hall at the Hyatt Regency brought back memories for me. The last time I was here was when I was invited to present a market research paper in the first Esomar Best of India meet. Seems like another life time away.

Said Esomar Best of India the last time
Colours were similar

With Shilpa, Arpana and Nikhil
Remembering old memories with new friends

K was relaxing in the room while I was at the event. After a couple of working weekends, a cappuccino, a cookie and book and a couch was apparently just the plan for her.

'One Cappuccino Please.
In a takeaway cup. To have here
Extra hot and frothy'
The royal dinner at Stax

After the event was over I caught up with K and we went down for dinner at the Stax, the specialist Italian restaurant of the Hyatt Regency.

A special dinner at Stax

When we had got married, our knowledge of Italian/ continental food was limited to the swimming in red or white sauce pastas that one used to get in Mumbai. K, like most Parsis, loved the pasta. I preferred Chinese. We would often argue about where to have dinner. I would push for a Chinese restaurant. K for pasta and salads. When it came to dinner choices, I won usually. She would huff and puff. 

Once we had our own kitchen, I taught myself how to cook pasta with initial lessons from K. I did it because she loved pasta.  Our initial pastas at home were the cheesy creamy ones.

Over the years I got exposed to Italian cooking outside of the cafe Churchills and the Mocambos (Kolkata) of the world and the 'continental fare' which we grew up on. I ate in Italian restaurants in Australia and then Switzerland, watched chefs cook Italian food in international TV shows,  then went to Italy and ate the food there, had food cooked in India by Italian chefs such as Matteo Arvonio of Mezzo Mezzo. I took inspiration from these experiences and began to experiment with interesting ingredients in our kitchen and focused on bringing out their flavours. I began to cook a variety of pastas and grills beyond the cornflour and milk butter and cheese sauce ones. 

I finally began to fall in love with Italian food. Like K once said about me, I am indeed my favourite chef. Thankfully, K liked my experimentations too.

A TimeHop memories app on my phone reminded me that two anniversaries back we were at Milan. I had gone there for the Host Milano meet and K had joined me for a wonderful Italian holiday.

Porcini flavours

We’d gone for dinner in Milan the night after  our anniversary last year for dinner at a place where I had a very insipid porcini risotto. It must have been a very touristy restaurant because one got flavours of neither the porcini, nor of any cheese. This rather soupy risotto, with soggy rice, was one of the most underwhelming dishes that I had on that trip of Italy. 

Seemed more Bombay Blue’ish than Milanese!

I had experimented with porcini mushrooms earlier, for the first in my life, after watching an episode of Master Chef Australia, which featured Marco Pierre White, a few years back. I went to Lalu’s at Pali Market the next day, bought the dehydrated porcini mushrooms on offer and cooked with them at night. The mushrooms were very expensive. The resultant dish was packed with the flavours of porcini.

These flavours came back to in the porcini risotto that I had at Stax last week unlike in the dinner at Milan. I also remembered that the first time that I had a risotto was at the coffee shop at the Hyatt Regency Mumbai over a client dinner in the mid 2000s. I had just read about risottos in Vir Sanghvi's book, Rude Food, a few days back then and wanted to try it. 

K had a lamb ragu pasta at Stax as she doesn't eat rice, and that was quite delicious too As was the seafood soup, which was again all about taste of good produce, which to me is the mark of good Italian cooking. The tuna carpaccio at the start of the special dinner put together for us was fresh and delectable. Flavours of the ingredients were strong, once again, in the feta and cranberry ravioli. This was a bit too sweet and chutney-ish for our liking thanks to the cranberry. Taste palates are very individual after all. The ravioli casing was good though. Not chewy.

A well flavoured porcini past at Stax
Poor pic, but nice lamb ragu rigotini at Stax

Good casing and a nice, tight and elegant sauce,
the filling in the ravioli was  bit too sweet for us

Brilliant sea food soup at Stax.
Great flavours of the seafood, not over cooked
The tomato base, the perfect balance of tanginess and sweet
and very fresh

Turned out that the head chef in Stax is a Bengali (!), Rajiv Das. The smiling chef, who dropped in later. told me that he has not been to Italy himself yet, but has trained under Italian chefs in five star hotels in India and in cruise liners. I must say that the meal that chef Rajiv and team had put together for us at Stax did bring back happy food memories of our Italian trip.

As did the penne carbonara that the young Sardarji chef at the Glasshouse at Hyatt Regency cooked for me the next day for lunch. My brief to him was: a pasta which is creamy, has lots of butter and cheese, ham or bacon, and is hot. I had a bad throat you see and used that to justify the indulgence. 

The pasta turned out to be the perfect farewell from our hosts.

Soul satisfying penne carbonara
The sauciness was on my request

This was not the end of the anniversary celebrations though. We left the Hyatt and headed to the house of our friends, the Talims, where mama and papa Talim were celebrating their 50th anniversary as well. 

They got us a cake to cut for our 15th along with some lovely sandwiches from Gaylord's ,and juicy and subtly flavoured mutton chops fried by Sunanda mashi herself. 

This sandwiches from Gaylord's was quite fitting as Gaylord's was an option we had considered for our wedding dinner before we chose Gallops.

Happy anniversary to us

This post is more than a week late. Our anniversary was on 22nd October. It's just that I was very busy with work with Diwali coming up and was writing this whenever I got some time. 

Being busy doing work you love is a blessing.

As is being married to someone who helps you chase your dreams.

Here's to sharing more happy moments with you here.

A romantic lunch the day after the anniversary

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A big thanks to Kaavya Murthy and the team at Hyatt Regency Mumbai for being such lovely hosts and making our anniversary so special and to the Talims for being like a family to us and to our Gakkai friends who dropped in to wish us and our family and friends