The Culture House, Girgaum, Mumbai
It is very rare, that I sit to write about a dining experience immediately after getting home, my experience at The Culture House a couple of hours ago was one such experience!
Helmed by 4 Gujaratis, Mr. Divyesh Thakkar, Mr. Sameer Gandhi, Mr. Jayesh Vora and Mr. Kaushik Mehta, who love to not only eat food, but also feed people. The Culture House is a restaurant with an amalgamation of the rich cultural heritage that our nation boasts of, of royal hospitality, of recipes passed down generations, of the joy of feeding your guests and ensuring they have a memorable experience and leave them wanting more!
In a day and age where delivery kitchens have literally taken over our houses, and cooking at home has drastically reduced as compared 5 years ago, the Culture House aims to attract you to a dining experience of the food that all of us grew up eating, food that our grandparents made where the secret ingredient was always love!
While The Culture House opens to public today, we were amongst the few who were invite to be part of the launch yesterday. The launch had the families and friends of the owners and a few media writers at the event, where all you could feel in the atmosphere was a genuine warmth and affection, something that we don’t experience on a daily basis at least when it comes to restaurants!
The evening kick-started with some unique and yum beverages like the Thandai Shots (which were a little strong on the pepper, keeping the chill in the air in mind); the Ice Orange Cold Coffee that were espresso shots, orange flavoured; and the Damroo Paan Shots, that I personally loved, why these stood out was because thy did not use any paan flavouring and actually had betel leaves blend through along with the feeling for the famous Calcutta meetha paan.
The Bajri Soup and The Clear Vegetable Dhokli Soup were all things wintery and what my nani usually makes every winter. The Bajri Soup also had whole Bajri millet in them and was flavoured with just the basic needed spices, hence allowing the Bajri to shine and the dhokli in The Clear Vegetable Dhokli Soup was highlighted by the flavours of ajwain also lifting the soup into itself being being the hero of the table. Simple flavours, nothing overpowering each other and soul touching food is what this course was about!
The Appetisers and Chaat followed, beginning with the Moongdal Bajri Khichu which also turns out to be maa’s favourite and she thoroughly relished it! This came with the usual oil and sukho sambhaar that khichu is traditionally eaten with. You could actually see maa break into a smile as she relished this, and it is after a long time I have seen food have this impact on her. The Tam Tam Dhokla came next and I loved this one. My favourite nylon dhokla was tossed in butter along with some red garlic chutney and coarsely chopped garlic, served with a dhania chutney, I truly relished this dish! The Sasumaa no Handvo came next and what impressed me with this dish was the fact that this came with pudina chutney, just showing how much attention to detail has been put into understanding flavour combinations and planning the menu!
The Chaat brought along with a lot of surprises (literally!). The Jalebi Mirchi Chaat came first and just the name of it had us a little worried about how it actually would be, this was basically a sev puri recreated, where the jalebi replaced the puri and the mirchi vada replaced the potato stuffing; just a bite into this and you know nothing ever went wrong with this and is now a new favourite. The Kolkata Dahi Wada came next and the Kolkata touch in this dish, rasgullas! Yes the dahi wada’s were actually rasgullas topped with whisked curd, chutneys and masalas! So, so cool! Since we don’t eat raw curd, we had ours without the curd and loved it even then!
The mains had us really excited, mom opted for another of her favourites, The Rigna No Olo and Bajri Rotlo and I ended up with the Puran Poli with Aloo Chips Sukhi Bhaji. The Rigna No Olo and Bajri Rotlo was fabulous and came with homemade white butter, jaggery, urad dal, spring onions and garlic chutney. A meal on its own, and a delicious one indeed, this one portion can easily feed two people and. The Puran Poli with Aloo Chips Sukhi Bhaji turned out to be the dish of the evening for me! This is anyways my favourite food but why it stood out was unike the usual haldi-mirchi-dhania jeera masala we use to cook the chips nu shake with, this one used very basic fresh spices, coriander and fresh coconut; flavours that worked so well with the puran podi too! Love, Love, Love happened (and it happened again when I ordered another portion of it)!!
The Achari Waghareli Khichdi and Kadhi was something we just tasted but loved and would have cleaned out had we not eaten so much already! The kadhi was just like what maa makes at home and the khichdi, unlike most places actually had khatti kairi (a traditional Guajarati pickle) in it!
Mom loves Shrikhand and she refused to leave without trying this, and like the rest of the meal this did not disappoint either!
The food at The Culture House primarily is a Gujarati-Rajasthani food, simple, homely, low on oil and leaves you satisfied!
The interiors at are a blend of of both old and new world, with elements that reminded maa of her visits to her nani’s house in Gujarat during her childhood! Indeed, some very warm memories.
What also made our evening very special was that every course was introduced to us through a sing song that was performed live by Gujarati theatre actors, Mr. Chirag Vohra, Ms. Akanksha Gade and Dr. Parag Zaveri and our meal ended with a talk by the renown Gujarati speaker, Mr. Jay Vasavda who highlighted the importance of bringing traditional Indian recipes, passed down generation to the world (a fan of Mr. Vasavada that I personally am, I also got lucky to get a copy of his latest book signed) !