I am going to start with a disclaimer for this blog, the reason you ask? Well because this blog can only be appreciated by true food lovers, people who swear by food, people who can go at lengths just to relish a recipe and those who respect the recipe behind the dish being served. I recall a dialogue by Saif from DCH here, where he goes to say ‘Cake khane ke liye hum kahi bhi ja sakte hai!’ So are you the one who can literally go places seeking good and authentic food? Don’t worry I won’t put you to any such test and there is absolutely no need to go far off places either; for these traditional, age old, hand passed recipes are now available right here in the heart of the Pune city for you to drool over. And it just doesn’t end there cause it’s not just for you to enjoy but this time you can go a step further and show it off among your friends and family where you are known as a gourmand. Please make way for Rare Gems catering by Aditya Mehendale. Aditya has now teamed up with two of the well known brands in the Pune food catering scene – Kotwal’s Kitchen, Baner (Ashwini & Mohit Kotwal) and Engineered Food Concepts Pvt. Ltd. (Manish Tepan and Rahul Prakash Nanal)
While the Kotwal’s Kitchen is well known for CKP food in particular; rare gems would cater to a much wider range and global array of dishes from across the continent. We were invited for a warm homely tasting/ preview of the some of the delectable dishes to be there on the menu and share our feedback. We did have an amazing time savoring all the meaty preparations and as far as the feedback goes; well here it is straight from the heart err… palate tips should I say? 😉
Now each of the below mentioned dish had 1 or more special ingredients but I am not disclosing them; that is a challenge for you to guess when you eat it next time at their / your place.
1. Mutton Chops: Chef Mohit a.k.a Chintu sir introduced us to his heavenly preparation of mutton chops. Truly unlike what I have had till date. The batter used to coat was just too good with the balance of spices used being absolute evident. This is just the perfect partner with drinks. The only suggestion to make it even more blissful would be to carefully dice it in such a way that the mutton chops are a little more meaty. #MustHave
2. Paneer pakoda: Now, all recipes served were customized version of the recipes and as such there was a surprise packed in each and every one of them. Except for the name may be most of the things were given a pleasing twist. The Paneer pakodas were different in the sense a garlic-red chilli paste was layered in between two thin paneer slices and the batter was made extra crispy and lite. )How? Naah ahh….Chef’s secret that it) The pakodas were served with mint and tamarind chutney to accompany which paired quiet well with it. #NiceSnack
3. Veg samosa: The guilt free variant of the samosa that we absolutely love to devour, this one was made using finely diced Carrot, Cauliflower, French beans and spiced up with some freshly made Garam masala. The crisp, translucent covering was a pleasant and healthy surprise but this one being a veggie overload I kept myself happy with just 1. After all there was a meat extravaganza planned and lined up ahead of us, right?
4. Fish Tikka: Nice spicy chunks of Rawas in a wafer thin crispy coating. The fish was just what u would expect it to be. The fish was very carefully cut and prepared so as to do away with bones. It was turned into an absolute boneless wonder. Cooking was appropriate and the gas tandoor in which it was made did its job well however a different tandoor or barbecue could have taken the magic to a new level. A regular tandoor with meticulous technique could make it score a perfect 10. I would also personally want it to have a little prominent flavor. The spice level was kept mild and the dish as a whole was made to showcase fish and not the spices and marination that went with it. I think that can be notched up a little; but again that is an individual’s choice. You can find it perfect just this way. Go ahead grab some of those with your drinks and figure it out yourself. Another suggestion here would be to pair it up with a mayo based dip such as mint or a cilantro mayo. #YummySnack #PartnerinCrime
The meat extravaganza saw a plethora of dishes and meat of varied sorts like chicken, mutton, quail and fish. The choice of recipes made sense in the way they were picked basis the meat that they would use. Now one thing which was common across all the recipes was that they were kept mild. And these are mild not as a choice or spice quotient but rather in terms of recipe chosen. The recipes are meant to be very mild and rich in the sense they using aromatic spices, herbs or dry fruits like cashew. So if you are used to only eating typical food that you have eaten all these years and are over-influenced by the perception that is impregnated onto you; courtesy customization that chef like to bring in as their own touch then chances are you may not appreciate the recipes. The recipes are made in such a way that the meat will be always be in focus. The texture of the meat, cooking technique and richness takes importance in all of these recipes rather than dominating gravies with strong flavors. So if you have what it takes to try different recipes and respect them for what they are then you would love these for sure. And even if you are not taken by these age old traditional recipes for the way they are meant to be still you would certainly find something to satiate your taste buds from the abundant menu that they have. Not convinced? Well, you would be, when you see for yourself that they can treat you with over 40 different varieties of Biryani’s alone. That did came as a shocker now; didn’t it? Alright over to mains now:
5. Murg Nizami: Super succulent chicken in a rich cashew gravy. I would admit that I have had very different murg nizami till date. The texture was made super creamy and the oil used although a tad bit on the higher side played well to cook the chicken to perfection.
6. Lagaan ka bater: When we heard the name for a second we were like Lagaan? Arey kahe ka lagan bhai? Lagaan literally meaning tax might not be the best of the names but the quail was something worth a try. I am not a fan of quail but if you are one you would appreciate this one for sure. Personally I thought the use of raisins was uncalled for and the occasional sweet bite was something I could do without.
7. Hyderabadi fish curry: Yet another preparation of rawas; this time in a curry. Having stayed in Hyderabad for over 6 years the hyderabadi in me was very eager to try this out. Although the dish performed very well it wasn’t the star attraction because the best of the dish was just lined up ahead and won the night hands down.
8. Gosht Mirchon ka salan: The magnificent mutton preparation of the night with super soft, succulent mutton pieces was the 2nd best of the dishes after mutton chops. Don’t get deceived by the chilies for they were just to garnish and give a very mild bit of a crunch. The chilies weren’t even a tad bit spicy and yet they form an integral part of the recipe. The generous use of ‘nallis’ was the most thoughtful of the decisions that could have been made with the recipe. #MustHave #StarDish
9. Hare Masale ki Biryani: Not very sure why the Biryani was named that way but i didn’t even bother to ask after having a spoonful. The Biryani was the most rich that i have had till date. Made in pure ghee and mild aromatic spices the Biryani was also very unique in the sense; it didn’t have the regular onion based masala or fried caramelized onions that form the toppings for a serving. The cooking method was different for sure for the simple reason that the meat was cooked extensively and yet there wasn’t a single grain of burnt rice to be found. The meat cooked in ghee and mild spices and the Chef special hara masala made it a classic dish to finish our mains.
This was by all means a memorable night. My team mates were full within no time from all the meat overload and yet they could’t stop them selves from gorging endlessly. We had so much of these that day that some of us had to take an off the next day 😉
I have had a glimpse of the recipes that Aditya is well known for at the Maharashtrian food fest at Marriott but those were more of like guided and supervised by him however with this first hand experience of savoring his delectable dishes i am beyond a doubt convinced why he calls his recipes ‘Rare Gems’….Until next time…
(As mentioned earlier the recipes are pretty different and unlike what you must be used to eating. Rare Gems catering along with Kotwal’s kitchen are open for business for taking orders anywhere from 8 to 200 pax for all sorts of occasions. They have different segments like silver, gold and platinum (per plate categories) which will see the likes of some of the most majestic and grand recipes that one might have heard of. They can be reached at the below mentioned no’s:
Spicy Tadka: 8390100588 and Kotwal’s Kitchen: 098235 58552)