Monday, June 1, 2015

Masala Table, Sanpada - Spicing up Navi Mumbai

A little more than a week ago I joined the NaviMumbaiFoodies for dinner at Masala Table. This relatively new restaurant is part of the very exciting quartet of restaurants located just off Palm Beach road, under the Global Culture umbrella. As is quite obvious from the name, Masala Table serves food with Indian flavours - mainly north Indian and Tandoori. The restaurant is perched on the first floor and has a huge plate glass wall that looks onto Palm Beach road and the mangroves beyond.

As I joined the others at our table I glanced around taking in the large and spacious restaurant that had a buffet laid out on one side and plenty of tables set around the rest of the room. Luckily, we had a table by the glass wall and could enjoy the lovely view as we dined.

We started off with a mint shikanji, a cooling mint drink that was ideal for the awful hot weather that prevails these days. We liked it so much we asked for a second round!

The Masala Table has quite an extensive menu that includes plenty of vegetarian options along with the non vegetarian ones. It's quite balanced so both affiliations get plenty of attention. The buffet spread was eye catching and went beyond the mundane 'daal tadka' 'vegetable jalfrezi' 'murgh makhani' etc., though they might need to rethink a vegetarian dish named 'Veg Keema Kaleji'. I'd find that quite disconcerting if I was vegetarian!

Our dinner began with soup and a steady stream of starters. I chose the simple chicken shorba - a clear flavourful broth with little bits of chicken at the bottom. It was simple and comforting and really delicious. The vegetarians had a singhade aur pudine ka shorba - water chestnut and mint broth - which was quite a failure. No one at the table had anything good to say about it.

The starters included a variety of tandoori items along with a plethora of deep or shallow fried goodies. Among the vegetarian starters were paneer zaituni - soft paneer cubes stuffed with olives and cooked in the tandoor - these were superb; dahi ke kebab - hung curd and very soft paneer with raisins, crisp fried with a crunchy exterior - I first ate these at Sigree and I love their version, but this was good too though I didn't like the raisins being there; shakarkand kebab - simple sweet potato croquettes that were perfect with a dash of mint chutney; hariyali kebab - green veg croquettes which were bland and characterless; chatpate aloo - baby potatoes boiled and then tossed in a light spicy wet masala - these were my favourite starter of the evening. The chukandar ke shami was a surprise hit - grated beetroot combined with cheese and lightly spiced, shaped into little tikkis and deep fried - these were little morsels of heaven.

Dahi ke Kebab

Paneer Zaituni

Chatpate Aloo

The non vegetarian starters were well received too. The Jhinga kalimiri -pepper prawns had simple clean flavours of a little cream with fresh black pepper, the prawns were perfectly cooked and succulent; murgh zaffrani tikka - saffron chicken tikkas - these were also light and fragrant, the chicken cooked to melt in the mouth consistency; murgh angara kebab- chicken tikkas in a more robust flavour, these were a good contrast to the earlier zaffrani tikkas; Awadhi mutton boti kebab - little boneless morsels of lamb that disappeared as fast as they appeared; and last but not the least, murgoli - little spicy balls of chicken mince - the kind you want to settle down with as you chill with a good book and a mug of beer.


Murgh Zaffrani Tikka

Jhinga Kalimirch

We asked to take a break. We'd eaten so much I couldn't imagine eating any more! But there was a lot more waiting for us and after chatting (and digesting) for 15 minutes we decided to hit the buffet. I had originally planned to try out the vegetarian dishes too but I was just too stuffed to eat much and I stuck to the non vegetarian stuff on offer. The mutton do piaza caught my eye - for a change there was a thin gravy instead of the usual thick heavy gravies ones sees on buffets - I wasn't going to miss it. I also helped myself to some of the chicken saagwala, and then, because I couldn't resist, just a smidgen of the paneer kalimirch. We had a basket of assorted flat breads served at our table.

I'm mad about biryani and asked if they had mutton biryani on their a la carte menu. They did and I promptly asked to be served some. In the years we have lived in Navi Mumbai I have been searching for good biryani and I was quite thrilled to find that Masala Table does a very good mutton one with lots of fried onions, mint and coriander, tender pieces of mutton, and fragrant rice. The main courses on the buffet were quite good too.

Mutton Biryani

I skipped dessert - not only was I stuffed to the gills, I'm also diabetic and I didn't want to push my luck after having gorged on the biryani!

Would I recommend Masala Table? Yes, wholeheartedly! The food is good, the ambience lovely, service is attentive without being intrusive. There's a lift to take you up to the first floor if you're not in the mood to take the stairs. And they have a very clean washroom too.

You can enjoy the buffets at lunch and at dinner. They have special buffets on weekends too. The prices rage from INR 575 to 699 all inclusive for vegetarians, and from INR 625 to 749 all inclusive for the on vegetarian spreads.

Disclaimer - This was a hosted dinner for the Navi Mumbai Foodies by the Masala Table.

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