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Published on: Dec. 13, 2021, 10:59 p.m.
Edgy Veggie Pleasures at the Tafe Terrace Cafe
  • Food glorious food: California Sushi Roll at the Tafe Terrace Cafe

By Swapna Vora

The whimsically named Tafe Terrace Cafe is above the Spice Laundry in Chembur. Never having been there, we were interested in seeing what is happening in that part of Mumbai: Plenty of wonderful things along with 'Food Glorious Food'! Chef Krishna Khetle at the Tafe Terrace Cafe is amazing: one of the most innovative and hyper energetic food specialists today. He has opened over 68 restaurants, (yes 68!) and maybe a couple more while we were not looking! Many are in India and one presumes he doesn't sleep since he keeps an eye on all of them and flies to each one regularly.

The Tafe Terrace Cafe has an excellent ambience with its intimate rooftop terrace with lots of fans, potted plants, hanging ferns, all backed by a wall of slim and elegant Ashok trees. The decor is slightly whimsical with small terracotta sculptures on walls, greenery and huge beach umbrellas: definitely comforting and entertaining. Easy bench-like sofas with fat striped cushions, simple wooden tables and flowers were everywhere with giant covers ready to protect us from sun or rain.

Chef Khetle offered us a light yet rich tasting soup reminiscent of Assam with a heap of dumplings. Starters were too many to recall but all tasted nice! Pune's misal packed in a yellow bun was served very attractively in a forest of kothmir and chillies. There were vegetarian galouti kebabs on ajwain puris, vegan 'meat' chops on skewers and a huge array of starters, soft drinks and main courses. A salad included dressed arugula surrounded by heaps of quinoa, red kidney beans, corn and other gifts from South America, each with its own sauce.

Chef Khetle knows just about every cuisine in detail: his is a work of passion and really offers a huge respite after the horrible pandemic years we have endured. He has travelled across the world and certainly crisscrossed India and his food, occasionally vegetarian and vegan, shows all sorts of wonderful influences.

Some specialties: A really light and delicately spiced Gnocchi Patate with bright green pea and spinach sauce, momos, biryani with soya 'meat substitutes' and a garlicky yogurt raita. We asked about milk substitutes since so many today are either allergic or fresh vegans who try to be as animal-free as possible. He said he was looking into that.

Apart from a good gnocchi sauce, there was an outstanding jelly made with coconut water: sublime, delicate and tasting softly sweet, (Coconut Pannacotta). A very gentle refined taste! Another great taste was Tres Leches: 3 types of milk desserts in a cylindrical jar with rasmalai at the bottom. Yes, while this is heavy, the taste is rich and very good. The chef suggested chocolate cheesecake but since we make our own cheesecake, we were a little hesitant to try it. Yes, it was rich, deep and satisfying like a good friendship!

A romantic place, nice for a tryst in the evening and full of novel vegetarian options! Healthy smoothies had fruits, coconut, litchis, green leaves and lemon. One hopes to return when the strawberry and kiwi season has matured a bit. (Off topic grumble: India used to have superb strawberries which were small, delicate and full of flavour and only available for a short time. Too many in the market today are big, fat, hard and often tasteless.)

Chef Krishna Khetle is definitely an F&B innovator. Besides being a chef, he is an entrepreneur, in the media often and has a huge passion for cooking. He has developed restaurants across India and in Doha (Qatar), Singapore, London, Budapest …. One of the most well-known faces among the top 50 in India’s culinary world and an active member of the Western India Culinary Association, he has 20 years of experience.

Chef Krishna’s cooking is certainly on par with good food anywhere.

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