• Mona Shah

The Bombay Canteen: Celebrating India, one dish at a time

Interiors inspired by Mumbai’s heritage bungalows with stone walls, stained-glass windows and high ceilings—The Bombay Canteen is the vision of two incredible chefs— Floyd Cardoz and Thomas Zacharias. On my recent visit to Mumbai, I finally made it to lunch on the current Chef Hussain Shahzad’s “Canteen Experience,” which I would highly recommend, as it gives you a curated taste of the entire menu.


With Bombay Canteen Chef Hussain Shahzad

I’ve been wanting to visit it since they opened in 2015, as my close friend Lorraine had been urging me to accompany her to try her brother-in-law, Floyd Cordoz’s reinterpreted Indian classics. Their family adda ishoused within a recreated old Mumbai bungalow at Kamala Mills, in Lower Parel, the space an ode to the city’s architectural history. The food is a marriage of old and new, an exploration of lesser-known regional cuisines and cooking techniques that reinterprets age-old Indian culinary traditions with a frequently changing seasonal menu. Some of the dishes I tried, such as the Eggs Kejriwal, Chettinad Prawns, Ali-Yolioand Arbi Tuk are iconic. As are their cocktail “books,” that tell stories about the inspiration behind every cocktail on the menu. My drink came from the book “Marine Drive” because that’s where I grew up and also because it had my favorite Gin and tonic (which I recreated at home, recipe linked here.)


Their menu is divided into “Chottas” and “Badas.” I tried all the chottas, small portions that don’t fill you up. “Our style of cooking is based on three factors that include ‘deliciousness’ - food that tastes good, this being the primary factor. The other two factors are the ‘significance’ and ‘relevance’ of the dish that play vital roles. Every dish that we put on the menu needs to have some amount of significance and relevance on why it is on the menu. Dishes that are seasonally spontaneous, have a crunch of nostalgia or an inspiration story to it. Lastly, it is important for the dish to be ‘technique driven.’ We like to showcase a certain amount of technique through the food we serve,” explains Chef Shahzad.


Here Chef Shahzad has shared two of his popular recipes with us, simplified to make it easy for the home cook.


BARLEY AND JOWAR SALAD

Serves 6


The Bombay Canteen’s Barley and Jowar salad.


Cooked Barley

  • 1 cup Barley

  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Wash the barley in water, strain.

  2. In a stock pot heat water add salt and cook the pearl barley until done. The resultant barley should not be clumpy and excessively starchy.

  3. Strain the barley spread in a tray and cool down. Store in quart containers.


Cooked Broken Wheat

  • 1 cup Broken wheat/ Laapsi

  • 2 tbsp Oil

  • Salt (to taste)


  1. In a rondeau heat oil and toast the bulger, now add in hot water and cook like a risotto until cooked.

  2. Resultant bulger should be cooked but not mushy.

  3. Cool on a tray and store in a quart.


Tomato Water

  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes

  • 1 cup peeled onions, diced

  • 3-4 pcs garlic cloves

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted

  • 1 cup coriander stems, cleaned

  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Wash the tomatoes and quarter them.

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the tomatoes and then blitz it in batches in a liquidizer until a smooth puree making sure to season every batch with salt.

  3. Line a perforated hotel pan with 4 layers of cheese cloth (washed in hot water and squeezed dry), place it over a deep hotel pan. Pour in the made puree over the cheese cloth and let drain slowly over night.

  4. Now pull out the strained liquid (approx. 7 liters) and cook down in a wide pot. Reduce to 1 liter on a medium flame. The resultant water should be a clear amber color with an intense tomato flavor.


Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 4 tbsp reduced tomato water (follow recipe)

  • 1 cloves garlic, grated with a fine micro plane

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice

  • ½ cup oil

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Sugar (to taste)


  1. In a bowl combine the reduced tomato water, lime juice and garlic and whisk by slowly adding in the oil to form an emulsion.

  2. Season with salt and sugar. The final vinaigrette should be balanced, not too sour or sweet.


Spiced Hung Curd

  • 1 cup hung curd

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 tsp toasted cumin powder, ground fine

  • ½ tsp honey

  • Salt (to taste)


  1. In a bowl whisk the hung curd till smooth with no lumps, add in all the ingredients and whisk again till smooth, check for seasoning.



Puffed Barley

  • 1 cup barley

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Oil to fry


  1. Cook the barley in properly salted water till soft, strain and cool down.

  2. Spread out into trays in a single layer over silpats and dehydrate at 80 C for 12 hrs.

  3. Pull off the silpat and reserve.

  4. Heat oil in a rondeau till hot and almost smoking (220 C), add in the dehydrated grains and allow to puff 5-7 seconds. Pull them out on kitchen paper and season with salt immediately.


Puffed Jowar

  • 1 cup jowar

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Oil to fry


  1. Cook the jowar in properly salted water until soft very soft, strain and cool down.

  2. Spread out into trays in a single layer over silpats and dehydrate at 80 c for 12 hrs.

  3. Pull off the silpat and reserve.

  4. Heat oil in a rondeau till hot and almost smoking (220 C), add in the dehydrated grains and allow to puff 5-7 seconds. Pull them out on kitchen paper and season with salt immediately.


To Finish

  • 2 cups cooked barley

  • 1.5 cups cooked bulger

  • 2 tbsp fine brunoised onions

  • 4 tbsp fine sliced chives

  • 4 tbsp fine chopped coriander stems

  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds

  • ½ cup tomato vinaigrette

  • 4 tbsp puffed barley

  • 4 tbsp puffed jowar

  • 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds

  • 1 cup spiced hung curd

  • Salt (to taste)


  1. In a mixing bowl, add in the cooked grains, chopped onions, chives, coriander stems & pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and add the vinaigrette.

  2. Adjust seasoning, add in the puffed grains and pumpkin seeds and transfer to the nappy bowl.

  3. Quenelle the spiced yoghurt on top and finish with some puffed grains and micro greens over the yoghurt.



Smoked Pumpkin Launji at The Bombay Canteen Serves 6


Smoked pumpkin launji, from the Bombay Canteen’s winter menu.


PUMPKIN LAUNJI

  • 2 lbs Peeled Pumpkin, Cubed

  • 3 cloves Garlic Peeled

  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder

  • 150 ml Mustard Oil

  • 2 tbsp sugar (depends largely on the sweetness of the pumpkin)

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Salt to Taste

  • Small piece of coal

  • 1 tbsp of oil to smoke


  1. Marinate the cubed pumpkin with salt, garlic, turmeric and mustard oil.

  2. Spread the marinated pumpkin on an oven tray in one layer

  3. Cook at 160 c set the timer for 30 min.

  4. Blend with a few crushed ice cubes till super smooth & creamy like a hummus

  5. Chill and season with salt, sugar & lime juice

  6. Heat the coals till the burn red, heat one tbsp of oil

  7. Now place the coal over the pureed pumpkin in a katori/ foil entrapment

  8. Pour the hot oil and cover with a lid smoke for 2-2.5 mins by the clock.

  9. Too much smoke ruins the flavor of the pumpkin.

  10. Transfer to a serving dish and reserve


CHARRED PONKH


  • 200 g Ponkh (available in the frozen section at Indian stores, linked here)

  • Oil

  • Salt


  1. Pressure cook the ponkh till soft in some water.

  2. Strain and reserve.

  3. We char the ponkh over embers at the restaurant, but at home you can char it in a pan over high flame stirring continuously.

  4. Season with salt and reserve.


PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

  • Smoked pumpkin hummus

  • Charred ponkh

  • Chilli oil / chilli crisp

  • Pickled onions

  • Lime juice


  1. Scoop a generous dollop of the creamy pumpkin hummus in a bowl

  2. Swirl the spoon in the center to create a well

  3. Toss the charred ponkh in the chilli oil, use as much or as little as you desire

  4. Hit it with a squeeze of lime

  5. Now rest the mixed ponkh in the well created for it

  6. Pour on the excess oil it's always added flavor

  7. Top it with pickled onions to give it that crunch and acidity

  8. Serve with khakra or lavash or just plain potato chips

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