Masala Library has certainly spiced up the Mumbai culinary scene, as is evident from the fact that getting a table, unless one has booked a week in advance, is impossibility here. Of course I am intrigued…..and curious to find out reason behind the buzz. Since I am visiting Mumbai on vacation, I do manage to visit the restaurant on an invitation from Varun Duggal of Massive Restaurants (the company behind Masala Library, headed by Zorawar Kalra) and reach Masala Library for lunch at the appointed hour.
The décor is slick and efficient. We are immediately seated, and soon thereafter welcomed with a burnt curry leaf mocktail and an amuse bouche of maska bun. The drink is charming in its eccentricity, while the maska bun is comforting. Next on the table is wild mushroom chai served with a lot of pomp and show as a tea service. I love the ceremony more than the so called chai which is a trifle bitter and heavy on the palate.
The starters continue with a tasty and refreshing watermelon chaat, topped with orange segments and some crunchy nut cracker. Next is braised mutton chaap in a kokum and maple glaze. While the chaap is cooked well and yields to the fork, the taste is unidimensionally sweet with kokum presence not being adequately felt. The next dish is pure delight. Sarso ka saag gilawt kebab, with corn and cheese kulcha gives the galauti format another dimension, with the meatiness being replaced by the addictive taste of Punjab’s quintessential sarson da saag while retaining the original texture. Equally enticing is prawn 65, served with cherry tomato chutney and pink peppercorn which has perfectly cooked crunchy prawns with an unmistakable southern touch. The chutney is tart, and balances the overall taste. Amritsari calamari, with coriander aioli, chukka mirch is executed proficiently with calamari having a perfect, soft texture.
As we lick the between courses misti doi sorbet made in the shape of lollipops and wait for our main course, I can’t help but admire the slick service being led from the front by Chef Saurabh Modi and manager Praful Kijbile themselves. Each table was being given more than adequate attention.
In the mains, Kashmiri chilli duck with aloo bukhara quorma is tasty though I wish it were not sweet almost like a Peking duck roll, but flavourful like the Assamese version. The duck though retains its moistness. Meen moilee gravy with baked river sole and coconut flakes is competently made and most comforting. The vegetarian bhindi Jaipuri, papad ki subzi, and hand pounded churma is addictive with its crisp crunchiness. The dal tadka is home style and the assorted stuffed paratha medallions are sinfully delicious. The star of the lunch undoubtedly is an Ecuador meet Erode Lemon Quinoa where the super grain has been transformed into a crunchy, lemony pulao in the tradition of the classic lemon rice. If healthy food can be so delicious, I could have it for every meal of the day!
In the dessert round, jalebi caviar, saffron glazed, pistachio rabri is quite a form innovation, serving jalebi in a granular form. I love the triple layered ras malai tres leches with fresh mango cream where two of my favourites (ras malai and mango) come together in a seamless fashion. We end the meal with Paan flavoured candy floss.
Lunch at Masala Library is quite an experience. Most the food here is a treat for the palate, and intelligently conceptualized. And some dishes like the sarson saag galauti, Prawn 65 and the Lemon Quinoa are truly memorable. It has been a good lunch indeed.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs.5000 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes | Wheel chair friendly: Yes | Address: Ground Floor, First International Financial Centre, Opposite Sofitel Hotel, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai | Tel: 022 66424142, +91 8452900900