Saturday, 8 October 2016

Kitchen Cornucopia by Cloves Catering

Cloves Catering has been on the Pune food scene for quite a while now. It is a food venture run by a husband-wife team: Parikshit and Anuja Vilekar. A few weeks ago I was expecting guests who love Biryani. Having read so much about the Biryani the Vilekars make, I could not help but reach out to them. The items I ordered from them were: Mutton Dum Biryani, Mutton Mince Patties and Kothimbir Wadi.

I had eaten the Mutton Mince Patties at a pop-up conducted by the Vilekars and had loved them then. It was no surprise that those patties were the first items we attacked when the food was delivered. Mashed potato encased the spicy mutton mince and a crisp coating of breadcrumbs held all that yumminess in. This was fried to a beautiful golden brown. Perfection in every sense of the word! I wish I had ordered for more.

The Kothimbir Wadis were not actually for the lunch menu. They were for me to nibble on as a between-meal snack. Guilty! Yeah, I do that at times. :P The Kothimbir Wadis, were not the Maharashtrian (Brahmin) ones that I was expecting. When I described them to my friend, Priyadarshini, she enlightened me about the different types of Kothimbir Wadis made by different sects. What I had received were the Paatt Wadis made by the CKP-Maharashtrian sect; a close cousin of the flattish Kothimbir Wadis that I was expecting on my plate. When I opened the food pouch in which the Wadis were sealed, I found to my dismay that the packet had moisture in it and the Wadis had gone soggy. My guess: they had been packed in the food pouch while still hot. They looked perfect, I will not deny that but I was not happy with what I bit into and nor were my guests. We barely ate a couple and the others were sent back into the kitchen. (Sad, disappointed puppy face) Also, I would have preferred a tad more Kothimbir (coriander leaves) in the Wadis. A request: please, allow the crisp Wadis to cool down before you pack them.

Fast forward by two days:.
As I mentioned above, the Wadis had been sent back into the kitchen. A couple of days later, I told Anu (my daughter from another mother) to bring them out and heat them in the microwave for a minute. (Please, no lectures about how harmful a microwave can be – everyone dies :P ) I then told her to drizzle a wee bit of oil in a non-stick pan, heat it and quickly toss in the now-hot Kothimbir Wadis in the oil until they crisped up. As the Wadis were already hot from the microwave they could be quickly crisped up without burning. Anu followed my instructions to the ‘T’.

The result:
The Wadis were as good as new. It was as if I was sitting at the Vilekar residence and they had served them straight from the kadai (wok). Yes, that wee bit of extra Kothimbir was still needed but the Wadis were a massive hit once we crisped them up. The 3/10 Wadis suddenly achieved an 8/10 status! I took away two points. One, for the initial sogginess and two, because it definitely needed more coriander leaves.

Coming to the last dish I ordered, the Mutton Dum Biryani: The Biryani was fragrant with each grain of rice separate, as it should be. I had requested Cloves Catering to add potatoes to the Biryani and they had obliged. The only drawback was that the potatoes were not the typical ‘Dum Biryani’ potatoes which, ideally, are cooked with the mutton. These had been cut into wedges, fried and then added to the Biryani. It wasn’t what I was looking for as but as I had made a special request and they were kind enough to comply, I shall let it pass. As for the mutton in the Dum Biryani, each piece was succulent and delicious but for some reason, each mutton piece after being cooked to that perfect succulence was sautéed to a dark colour (or at least it felt that way). The look of the mutton, thus, was not very appealing. I have to be honest, though, and say I could find no fault with the inner texture of the meat or the flavour. Nevertheless, we all did wonder why the mutton was so dark in colour.

Another point that I wish to specify is that the Dum Biryani on the first day was good in flavour but when I ate it as leftover (read: typical baasi biryani) over the next two days, the flavour had intensified tenfold. I kid you not! I had specially ordered a whole kilo because I love leftover Biryani as it always tastes better the next day. The Biryani tasted incredible! I just could not stop eating it! Abso’fuckin’lutely mind-blowing! (Note to self: Next time, call for this Biryani a day ahead)

Cloves Catering has a delivery system in place. They have a tie up with Dial-A-Meal to ensure your order reaches you on time. Delivery charges are levied by Dial-A-Meal depending on the bill amount and the area of delivery. The food was safely and neatly delivered well before the stipulated time. Extremely commendable!

The meal from Cloves catering was everything that it is made out to be on social media. The adulation and appreciation they get is, indeed, very well deserved. I have taken a peek at their menu and the dishes I read about made me feel like a kid peeping into a kaleidoscope. I say this because, just as a kid looks forward to turning the kaleidoscope to check the myriad frames that falls into place, I look forward to trying many more of those dishes from Cloves Catering. I know each one will bring a new and pleasant surprise to my palate.

Parikshit and Anuja, thank you for making this order a possibility. I know you guys had just returned from a short holiday that very morning. I appreciate the professionalism with which you executed the entire meal. Kudos and heartfelt thanks!

Food: 3.5/5 (This rating went up to 4/5 after the Wadis were crisped up but it was an extra effort for me and Anu where there should have been none, hence the official rating remains at 3.5) 
Service (Over the phone, package & delivery) 4/5
Ambiance: Not applicable, yaar, home delivery tha, ab tak itna toh samajh jana chaiye tha na :P

To order meals from Cloves Catering please contact Parikshit & Anuja Vilekar on +91 9822007315.

Please feel free to check out the meals and menu at their Face book page:

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