Masala Library (BKC, Mumbai)

Masala Library must be one of the most revered establishments in Bombay. Hence I was a little disconcerted when I arrived at a seemingly ordinary looking restaurant tucked away in the depths of BKC. There was not the usual ‘glitz and glory’ that seems to be so often heralded in the city. In fact, the restaurant is plain, even demure and apart from the white table clothes (often eschewed in this day and age) has no hallmarks of a high-end restaurant. In fact, the handful of kids climbing on furniture and making plane sound noises on the table opposite was a bizarre and rather irritating indictment of the stature of fine dining restaurants in India.

The vegetarian tasting menu (approx 2300 INR) was a beautifully orchestrated selection of Indian fare. The bocconcini lemon and coriander soup was well executed, light, spicy and a perfect start to the meal. I was left wondering at the relevance of two small pieces of Italian cheese at the bottom of the dish, however. The channa philli tikki was another tasty dish; although perhaps a little dry, it was a welcome change to the greasy fried entrees that some places are serving. The piece de resistance however was the masala mushrooms in a korma sauce. The selection of fresh shittake and enoki mushrooms and the creamy sauce made for a wonderful starter, substantial without being heavy.

The main course of artichoke and asparagus in banarasi squash korma was superb. The freshness of artichoke and asparagus, cooked a la minute, was on point with the sauce being a rather lively compliment. With the main courses came a whole host of bonus dishes including daal makhani and kichidi, which were again delightful although I would say slightly luke warm when they arrived.

The dessert selection again showed panache and flair. The rasmalai with the sugar work on top was magical for any “mithai” lover. The sugar work was perhaps a little amateurish, but a good attempt. The Ghewar cheesecake topped with Rabdi was a perfect fusion of a western dessert with an Indian touch and the motichoor ladoo with foam was a tasty dish, although a rather forced combination on the plate, both visually and taste-wise .I also appreciated the number of palette cleansers and after thoughts (like the candy floss) that are brought throughout the experience.

Overall, this really is a ceremonious tour de force of modern Indian cuisine and at a price that is humble for the intricacy and skill that is so evident throughout.

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