Having spent close to two years in Mumbai, and being foodie that I am, there are quite a few places that make up my bucket list. And as anybody who has spent a reasonable amount of time relishing good food will tell you, Masala Library tops that list with its Molecular Gastronomy meets Modern Indian cuisine tagline. Masala Library had been on my Bucket List for quite some time. I had long been waiting for the right occasion to visit The Magnum Opus of the Czar of Indian Cuisine. I finally found the right occasion and having heard/read lots of stories about their lists of reservation, I decided to make the booking well in advance. Eazydiner (https://www.eazydiner.com) came to my rescue and I got a reservation and a complimentary mocktail/wine for each person.
We were scheduled to lunch here on a Sunday and I was excited all week!! Sunday arrived and as we got to the restaurant, we were guided to a table towards the centre of the dining area. The ambiance here is that of a classic luxury restaurant, well done up walls, nice tables and chairs, great china and cutlery. No theme, no props, not too much going on to distract you from the star viz the food!
We were handed the menu, one look at it and we decided to stick to the chef’s tasting menu, ensuring we didn’t miss out on any of their signature dishes. We called for the Vegetarian 7 course tasting menu and it went thus:
Thandai shots, to help cleanse your palette and prepare your taste-buds for the upcoming delights.
There’s also Bun Maska, freshly baked mini-buns with a filling of herbed cheese, that is delicious and appetizing.
The soup is a deconstructed patra ni machi, with a lemon-coriander shorba and coriander and mint coated cheese replacing the machi for vegetarians. This is served with a side of buttered edamame beans and the slightly salty beans go very well with the sour-hot flavors of the soup. This is a great dish t tantalize the Indian taste buds. My only problem was that the soup was served in a bowl too big for its contents and so was cold by the time you were halfway through it.
The salad for us was a variant of the popular dahi balla, with the udad dal balla being replaced by one made of chenna. The chenna balla and the dahi together added a tinge of sweetness to the zing of the chutney and these were appropriately topped with crispy okra with sev and pomegranate on the side.
The salad was followed by a kebab akin to most sheekh kebabs, served with mint chutney, fried masala chickpeas and buttered corn. The dish on the whole was an average kebab, nothing spectacular about it.
Then came the Malabar parota (when its Malabar its parota not paratha 😛 ) This is a stuffed Malabar parota (you can call it a quesadilla) served with an onion and tomato chutney and podi (yes, gun powder!) An authentic south Indian dish, right on point with the tangy-spicy flavors. But the chef seems to have taken the authenticity a bit too seriously as the parota also has that extra layer of grease that is akin to most kerala parotas!!
The final dish of the course was a creamed mushroom preparation with mushrooms in cream flavored in various herbs. My favorite of the lot, lots of flavors, all of them mild, nothing too extravagant.
There were three available main courses and we ordered all three to the table!
A mushroom patty served with a side of oyster mushrooms and a truffle sauce. Was quite an interesting dish, but a bit too salty for our liking.
Tadka Artichoke Hearts:
This one consists of sautéed artichoke hearts, bell peppers, zucchini and asparagus. Served with a benarasi korma gravy. The dish is a surprisingly tasty fusion, and served as a great and filling main course.
Sarson ka Saag:
Classic sarson ka saag served with makkai gatte. The dish tasted exactly as expected, nothing surprising, no fusion, all good.
There’s also stuffed naanlets, dal makhani and boondi raita for every table. The stuffed naanlets included stuffing of mushroom, cheese and tomato sauce ( a la margherita) and mixed herbs.
Like most great restaurants, the main course was all decent, but failed to impress. It was not exactly something I would pay so much to eat again.
The one course of the meal that I had been looking forward to with most excitement!! The first dessert was the Ras Malai Tres Leches, a three tier rasmalai with apple cream in saffron milk. The apple cream added only a mild flavor to the otherwise regular rasmalai.
The star attraction at Masala Library, the Jalebi Caviar was finally served. And I did not let anyone touch it before I had a picture!! The jalebi caviar (which frankly looks similar to a pressed motichoor laddoo) is floating in a rabdi with saffron foam. The dish is served in a conch-shell like dish and it is quite deceptive, as you have no idea how deep it is and how much of the awesome rabdi it holds!! The staff politely asked us to take a spoonful with all three components and it was a blast of sweetness in our mouths. The dish is extremely delicious and also extremely heavy. Make sure this is the last dessert you eat as all the others will taste bland after this one. Some would say it lacked a dash of fruit or something else to balance the flavors, but its rabdi-jalebi and pretty, so I don’t have any complaints!!
The paan flavoure candy floss is a nice mouth freshener and brings out the child in you as you enjoy the buddhi-ke-baal!
The service in any restaurant is is as important as the food itself, if not more. And Masala Library has their service on point. The staff is very pleasant and they are all well informed about their menu. They are always able to give complete details of the ingredients of a dish, of the method of preparation and sometimes also about how to eat the dish!! They are able to make good suggestion based on your tastes and more often than not, you will do good t take their suggestions.
And this way, we sailed through the journey that is the masala library tasting menu. It was a delicious experience, totally worth the buck, for the creativity and presentation of the dishes, the taste and the hospitality.
The place is totally worth a visit. Make sure to make reservation in advance. Bon Appetit!