In a NUtshell:
A memorable lunch curated by home chef Chandana, organised by authentic food at neel restaurant – great selection of items that included the usual suspects and also the totally unexpected , almost home like food re-created at a restaurant kitchen, great service, lovely ambience and more
Address & other details: Authenticook
Meal for 2: ₹1200 for vegetarian meal and ₹1400 for non vegetarian meal
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
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I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
We had a great experience at a pop up organised by this new age company Authenticook.com at the home of a koli (fishermen) family sometime back in mumbai. So when they announced a bihari food festival, we got interested.
Usually Authenticook.com arranges the pop ups at the homes of home chefs but for a change, this time they tied up with the visually beautiful restaurant neel, tote on the turf, at mahalakshmi .
What’s interesting is that you can also request for a special meal and request for a date and the app will try to get that done for you.
Some dishes were added in the menu due to nostalgic value by home chef Chandana and some were added for the same reason by the owner of neel.
The choice of dishes varied from the obvious litti chokha and Malpua to the unexpected (in a restaurant), aloo parwal bhujiya or aloo baingan badi. Between both of is we tasted a little bit from every dish in vegetarian and non vegetarian section. The trick to survive this huge menu was not to take any repeat helping till the end and to go low on cereals.
We loved the vegetarian dishes a lot and also the meats.
We had a short nice conversation with chef Chandana as she was paying a visit to all the tables.
A chat with Co founder of authenticook, Anish, was great as always. We hv started to look forward to that good chat in our authenticook events now (he is not there in all events obviously).
Service of neel was excellent, as always. This time the guy serving us knew about the menu very well.
Loved the fact that they served food in bio degradable , disposable plates made from saal leaves
Our exposure to bihari food has been eating at homes of our bihari friends , on normal weekends, going to special festive occasions and Also to ‘litti party’. The food at this pop up reminded us if some of those.
We loved the food at bihari food restaurant in Delhi – potbelly Shahpur jat and potbelly Chanakyapuri (bihar bhawan). We liked a pop up named bihari rivaayat at trident BKC mumbai but this one by chef Chandana beat it hands down ( in terms of choice of menu, being more like home food and getting the authentic flavours out).
Super loved the food and the experience.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
As we sat, our server came and introduced himself. He gave us the Welcome drink amjhora. This was made from flame roasted raw mango pulp – conceptually similar to aampora shorbot that is popular in neighbouring Bengal. However the similarity ended there. The Bengal version is obviously a more sweet and sour version. Amjhora was minimal sweet, sour and a tinge of salt. Loved it. Very refreshing. Rate it 4.5/5
Litti chokha was home like. Traditionally litti is made on cowdung cake fire. That gives litti a certain rusticness. The ones here were made in modern gadgets.
For the uninitiated, litti is round, ball shaped, has a filling of sattu (powdered grams), mustard oil, green chillies etc. and has an atta (wheat flour) outer layer. Chokha, though spelt in the sane breath as litti is an accompaniment of litti. In western terms, it is like a dip (though quantities served are larger than dip). Different vegetable dips r made.
The Litti outer layer was a bit more moist that how it usually is, maybe due to extreme moisture in mumbai during rainy season or because of the way it was baked. We super loved the inner filling and ended up reordering the litti for a second helping. Rate the filling 4.75/5, the outer layer 3.5/5. Average rating is 4.12/5
There were 3 kinds of chokha – aloo (potato), tomato and baingan (aubergine).
Aloo was boiled and the other flame roasted. In the traditional method, there is a strong smokiness in the tomato and aubergine chokha. That was missing here. Rate chokhas collectively 3.5/5
Bhabhra was a deep fried super crisp disc made of besan and it had green peas in it. I don’t remember another cuisine that has such a combination. Very unique, as per my memory. Unputdownable . Rate it 4.5/5.
Alu parwal bhujiya was the last thing I expected in the menu as it is such a typical home comfort food and is totally unexpected in a restaurant (other than the roadside rice hotels that feed thousands of people everyday at low price). This dish turned out to b a rockstar die to its simplicity and sheer perfection in everything from the cut of the veggies to the salt to everything. This was the only dish that my partner reordered. I did reorder as well. Rate it 4.75/5
Kathal ki tarkari was, I guess, the weakest link. I assume it would be better at someone’s home. The gravy was watery and did not have a character. The kathal was very tough and I could not eat it. Fibres went and stuck between the teeth, creating quite a mess. To begin with, the jackfruit itself was more matured than it should have been. Then the gravy execution was not at par. Rate it 1/5
Aloo baingan badi was another surprise – no one wud think of putting this humble regular home food on a restaurant menu. Loved the simplicity of it and how it was made in a restaurant as if made at home. Rate it 4.5/5
Besan ki machli – no that is not a non vegetarian dish. Its a tikka of besan floating in a thin gravy, giving it the look of a fish curry. Super loved it. The concept, the simplicity and the thought. Rate it 4.5/5
Mutton goli was small round fried meat balls – not juicy, full of flavours of spices and some of the meat. It had a Shammi kabab kind of texture , yet different. Tasted very good. Rate it 4/5.
Pintu’s chicken cutlet was a dish that eas put on the menu not because its a traditional bihari food, but due to nostalgic reasons – a shop in patna called Pintu chicken used to sell these cutlets. It was a coated and deep fried chicken piece with bone. I loved it. Very different from usual chicken pakodas of delhi. Rate it 4.25/5
Dehati meat was excellent. Super soft meat falling of the bones, khara masala , intense, robust and rustic gravy. Rate it 4.5/5
Sarson wali machli was second from the bottom. Rawas fish did not do justice. It did not mingle with the mustard the way rohu or betki would have. The fish piece was excellent but overall it was average. Rate it 2/5.
Taash was a surprise. Outstanding is an understatement. I also did not know that there is a concept of salli (as in Parsi cuisine – matchstick potato fry) in Bihari cuisine. Salli changed the game in terms of texture. The meat was fantastic in terms of marination, texture, taste and flavours of masalas. Rate it 4.95/5
Matar Kachori was very good. Unlike the Bengali version (koraishutir kochiri, made from maida), this was made from atta. The bong version has some salt in the dish which allows one to eat the kachori just as it is and enjoy the flavors if green peas. The Matar kachori here did not have any salt in it and hence had to be eaten with a curry, thus losing its value addition. Rate it 4/5
Tikona paratha was very good as well. Rate it 4/5.
Dhooska was Oily as you touch it but that’s how the dish is. It was Crisp, flavours of daal expressed themselves. Very different from most Indian cereals I have had. Loved eating this with mutton curry. Rate it 4.5/5
Super loved the Tehri. Way better than the one at trident BKC. Simple, superb. Rate it 4.5/5
TP chutney had an interesting name – it is named after chef chandana’s family friend uncle (TP uncle) who used to make this. Super hot, bold and robust tomato chutney. Loved it. Rate it 4.5/5
Nimbu ki nimkee was an Achaar made with lemon. Very interesting. Very different. Sour, tinge of bitter, somewhat hot, full of flavors. Rate it 4.25/5
Ole Ka chokha super impressed me. Ole is elephant yam (root vegetable). This chokha was ole mashed with spices, oil and chilly. Awesome. Memorable. Rate it 4.75/5
Nimbu wala mirchai was green chillies and lemon achaar – once again, very refreshing to see this on the menu. It was unique and very good. Rate it 4.5/5
Tilauri was a chutney made of til (sesame seeds). Loved it. Rate it 4.5/5
Parwal ki mithai was way better than the usual ones found in sweet shops in Kolkata. The parwal layer on the outside was not over sweet. The reduced milk (khoya) filling had a tinge of salt in it and was not too much sweet as well. This gave the overall dish a great balance. The filling also felt good because of dry fruits in it. Rate it 4.5/5
Malpua was large, fluffy (unlike the flat home ones). The home ones r usually crisp in the end, thin. The taste was good but the texture was strange. There were areas in the Malpua that had a caramelised effect. It was good but not great. Rate it 3/5.
Pedakiya is similar to what is referred to gujiya in north India’s this version was way more dry. The outer portion was crisp and non oily , non sticky. The filling was excellent. Rate it 4.5/5
Magadh paan ka joda was outsourced. Good but not the best. Am not rating it.
Overall rating averages out to 4.1. That’s a great rating considering I averages 25 items. Nowhere close to an easy task to achieve that.
The festival is on this weekend also, till tomorrow. Highly Recommended by Yummraj