Monday, May 6, 2013

Foodie Jaunts

Managing two blogs is quite a tall order; at least it is for me, therefore when my brother Aroop Bose took pity on me and suggested he would do a restaurant review, I jumped at his offer. This is, however, a restaurant review with a difference — the restaurant is Spice Tree but he isn’t reviewing the food available there but – on second thoughts it would be better if I hand you over to my brother, so read on…

Kong Poush Kashmiri Food Festival at Spice Tree – Taste of Kashmir

 by Aroop Bose

Goshtaba and Nadir Palak
It was about three years ago we tasted food from Kong Poush the first time; it used to be a restaurant located in suburban Mumbai. We had brought home a parcel of Goshtaba and Nadir Palak. The dishes were delightful, Goshtaba is a mutton dish, the mutton is in the form of soft balls like a kofta but not exactly the same, the mutton is actually pounded into a pulp like state before the balls are formed, the gravy is yoghurt/dahi based. Nadir Palak is a dish prepared using lotus stem and spinach as the main ingredients. Sometime later Kong Poush shifted to Goa which was a bit disappointing for us because we loved the dishes we tried. Early last month I was pleasantly surprised to receive a text message from Sunil Mattoo, the proprietor, saying that
Kong Poush was holding a Festival of Kashmiri Food at a restaurant called Spice Tree which is located at Bandra West in suburban Bombay. Since it was a very convenient location we immediately decided to try out the food there.

Instead of eating at the restaurant we preferred to bring home
Maaz Yahin
parcels of Maaz Yakhin (Rs. 399.00) and Dum Oluv (Rs. 289.00) and try these in the comfort of our home. Maaz Yakhin is a mutton dish with yoghurt/dahi based gravy and Dum Oluv is a potato dish, ‘oluv’ is potato in Kashmiri, it is what is generally referred to as Kashmiri Dum Aloo. Dum Oluv also has yoghurt/dahi based gravy; it is reddish in colour because of the use of Kashmiri chilli powder. Kashmiri chilli powder lends a rich red colour and flavour to the dish without making it hot or ‘theekha’ as we say in Hindi. Maaz Yakhin was delicately spiced just the way we like it and was a
Dum Oluv
delight. I have tasted this dish and goshtaba in Srinagar (Kashmir) and I loved it there, the Kong Poush version is equally tasty. Dum Oluv tasted beautiful, while eating the oluv or potato I initially felt that there was some kind of stuffing inside which tasted good, but I was mistaken because it is not meant to be a stuffed potato dish. The gravy had actually seeped inside the potatoes giving me an illusion of presence of some kind of stuffing, which is how a good Kashmiri Dum Aloo should be.

To make the best out of the Kashmiri Food Festival we decided to
Kong Poush Batta - Saffron Rice
visit Spice Tree Restaurant again. This time we ordered parcels of Kong Poush Batta or saffron rice (Rs. 189.00), Rista (Rs. 399.00,
Goshtaba also costs the same) – this dish had mutton balls similar to Goshtaba, but with a reddish gravy, and Tamatar Chamman (Rs. 329.00) – paneer or cottage cheese pieces in red colour tomato based spicy gravy. This time we happened to meet Sunil Mattoo at the restaurant. Since we were planning to take the dishes home and eating them later, Mattoo told us that the mutton balls in Rista would harden and to bring back the
softness he advised us to boil the mutton balls for about ten minutes before eating. We took his advice and wow! The dish tasted great and the balls had become really soft; Tamatar Chamman was also very tasty. Kong Poush Batta or saffron rice was pleasantly unusual, the flavour was subtle and delicate and went very well with the two dishes, incidentally Kong Poush literally means saffron flower in Kashmiri. While we waited for the food to be prepared Mattoo treated us to a cup of Kahwa, a kind of tea Kashmiris drink. I am
Tamatar Chamman
not sure exactly as to how this tea is prepared, it seemed to be
lightly spiced and had pieces of almond in it which lent the lovely flavour.

In all we tasted seven items from Kong Poush and are very satisfied, we now look forward to the next Kashmiri Food Festival by Kong Poush since there are many more dishes to be tried. Those who wish to know when and where Kong Poush is planning to hold its next festival can visit the Kong Poush Facebook page. I hope Sunil Mattoo is soon able to start his restaurant. 

Note: Prices mentioned above do not include service charge and taxes.


  1. Anekdin pore Shilpidi. kamon acho? tomar ager video ta khub bhalo hoeche ar ei post tao.

    1. Thank you very much Sayantani. Duto blog niye himshim khaachi. It is tough but do not want to give up either. Bhalo legeche jene bhalo laaglo.

  2. Ah, lovely. I am very fond of Kashmiri food - I spent 3 years of my childhood in Srinagar, and sharing my classmates' lunches was always great fun! Fortunately, Delhi has a couple of good Kashmiri restaurants, so whenever my husband and I get a craving for Kashmiri food, we go along and treat ourselves to a meal.

    Incidentally, the kehwa is brewed by putting in cardamom, cinnamon (and some people add ginger, too) into the boiling water, followed by the kehwa leaves. Saffron is traditionally added, along with the slivered almonds. It's utterly addictive.

    1. You spent 3 years in Srinagar, it must have been a beautiful experience. By the way Madhu, are there different varieties of this tea? You have spelt it as kehwa whereas in the menu card it was spelt kahwa besides when we visited Kashmir we heard the people there pronounce it as kahwa. This one was sweetish. When my brother mentioned the other variety of kahwa he had tasted earlier which was salty, Mr Mattoo informed us that it is called noon cha. I guess differnt regions have different varieties isn't it?

    2. Yes, it was a wonderful experience. I loved Srinagar - still do.

      It's spelled (well, transcribed, actually, since I'm writing in English) interchangeably as 'kehwa' or 'kahwa'. It is sweetish, because it's usually served with sugar. Noon cha, though I've never drunk it, is a different type of tea, but from what I recall, the difference is not of region; both kehwa and noon cha are drunk in the Kashmir Valley. If I recall correctly, noon cha is a black tea while kehwa is (definitely) a green tea.

      Ladakh has its own version of salted tea, known as gudgud chai - comes heavily laced with yak butter, and resembles a soup more than tea!

    3. Thanks for the info Madhu. Yes I know about the Ladakh tea I have seen it in several travel programmes. I guess kehwa and kahwa is much like Shahnaz and Shehnaz some people write and pronounce the name as Shahnaz while others prefer Shehnaz, I do not think there is any difference in the meaning.