Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai has transformed from ‘Thar desert’ to ‘Mini Manhattan’ within the space of five years - from just a Café Coffee Cay and a Pizza Hut to fancy offices and fancier restaurants mushrooming every other day. The new kid on the block is a standalone restaurant named Masala Library - offering a great ambience, impeccable service, wonderful explosion of different textures and flavours of street food & a fascinating concept of molecular gastronomy thrown in at a price that's fairly acceptable.
Many modern chefs do not accept the term molecular gastronomy and prefer other terms like "modern cuisine" or "avant-garde cuisine”. Whatever the name, Chefs Himanshu Saini & Zahir Khan have mastered the art pretty well as I found out when I went to the restaurant at the invitation of Ankur Chawla, the General Manager Operations, along with Subhash Arora, President of Indian Wine Academy who was visiting Mumbai to participate at an Indo German Seminar on Indian wine industry followed by a German Wine Tasting the next day.
The celebrity Chef and writer Jiggs Kalra and his son Zorawar Kalra, owners of Masala Library have a vision - to ensure that the complexity and the simplicity of Indian cuisine makes it one of the most sophisticated cuisines globally. This was amply visible in every dish placed before us. We visited the restaurant on a Tuesday hoping that it would not be too crowded but despite the fact that it has not been officially launched (just a soft launch), the place was packed. According to Ankur Chawla, GM Operations, it has been a full house on almost all the 17 days, since it opened.
We realized that we were in for a big treat when Ankur mentioned that we would be feasting on the nine- course Chef’s Tasting Menu - small portions of all signature dishes in one sitting. I would take away the sense of surprise if I were to describe every dish and so will limit to just a few that we really enjoyed.
The first dish was a sphere of yogurt & papdi chaat where the yogurt ball burst in the mouth releasing flavors of the street food with a scientific twist to it. Next was the vegetarian Pesto Kebab that had hints of coriander and garlic. What I loved most was the Wild mushroom chai - it had dehydrated mushrooms, deconstructed truffle oil and mushroom consommé. The truffle oil got to its original form when mixed with the consommé. It was a real piece of art indeed-and a treat for the palate.
The Tamilian Thayir sadam (yogurt rice) with pepper prawns & banana crisps served in a handmade shell placed on a chopped log of a real tree had great flavor and a unique presentation. The ‘maska’ (butter) bun, the anaar (pomegranate) and mint raita garnished with rose spheres, the amazing and innovative bread basket and the variety of desserts including jalebi served with a twist-on rabdi with pistachio dust were delicious. Mishti Doi Lollipops and Ghevar Cheesecake put all diet plans on the back burner during the evening
With the license for liquor just around the corner, we missed the opportunity of pairing the dishes with wine (some of the German Rieslings we tasted at Four Seasons earlier would have been a great match) although we did taste a few mocktails including the star anise martini topped with star anise foam & curry leaves. The food might be a bit heavy and too filling for me but was not chilli hot and the restaurant could become a great venue for pairing food with wine and I could see regular wine dinners being organised here.
Highs - Masala Library scores high on innovation, flavor, taste, presentation and well-groomed staff
Lows - the ambience could be a bit brighter
Must try: Wild mushroom chai, Thayir sadam with pepper prawns, Jalebi served on rabdi & the Curry leaf martini
Meal for two: INR 2500+taxes (w/o alcohol) - certainly is a bargain for probably a Michelin-starred eatery in the making
Address: Ground Floor, First International Finance Centre, BKC, Mumbai.
Phone: 022 6642 4142
Facebook: Masala Library by JiggsKalra; Twitter: @MasalaLibrary
Tags: BKC, Mumbai, Masala Library