They say if you wish for something with every fibre of your being, the universe helps you get it. While it’s a great thought, I’m still waiting for the universe to help deliver my BMW Roadster to me 🙂
But this universe is a nice guy, really! Sometimes, he gifts you these small, little things that give you bagfuls of happiness, because you would have wished for something and forgotten all about it, and wham! – there it is, landed right on your lap!
Okay, okay I’m getting to the point! It’s been years since my stint in Melbourne, Australia, and like they say, you can get out of Australia, but can’t get the Australia out of you… or something like that!
So I was pining for some good ol’ Aussie food, like the Sausage Rolls from the station kiosks and 7-Elevens, the delicious Peach Melbas, the spicy Meatball Sub from the Subway at the corner of Flinder’s, and the Sunday night Lamb Curries at home. And bang! Australian lamb has finally arrived in India, courtesy Mulwarra Exports, and here I am, sitting at a Chef’s Table at Grand Hyatt tasting some of the best lamb ever… with tears of joy in my eyes, and a silent thank you to the universe guy!
For a lover of lamb, this had to be the most beautifully satiating 2 hours of their lives. Because Chef Mike Tafe, the celebrated and well-travelled chef at Mulwarra exports, put his heart and soul into showcasing the versatility and universal appeal of lamb with a menu that featured Australian lamb cooked 7 ways, each distinctively different in flavor, texture, taste, and gobble-worthiness!
First up was a Lentil Lamb Soup, a nod to the Indian Kaali Daal, a smoky, rich rendition with tender chunks of lamb in it. This was followed by a Japanese-style Lamb Tataki, little medallions of lamb loin with a crisp, sesame crust and a pink, juicy centre, delicately flavoured with ginger and soy.
An Osso Bucco (Italian for ‘bone with a hole’) style Braised Lamb came next, slow-cooked for over 4 hours to get the right brothy consistency and the robust Italian flavours. When the next plate was placed before me, the aroma floating up made me switch to a dream sequence set in the verdant Aussie downs, dotted with huge, furry grazing sheep, with the smoke from a giant barbecue of a nearby farmhouse hanging tantalizingly in the air – you see, Breaded Lamb Cutlets and Smoky Lamb Chops with Chipotle Butter are known to cause this kind of reaction 🙂
A little after mid-point, we decided to take a break to refresh our palates and our minds of meaty visions, and started chatting around the table. Greg Darwell, known as Daal in India (sorry Greg, couldn’t resist that one!) Managing Director, Mulwarra Exports, tried to console us, citing surreal international red-tapism as the reason for depriving us of Aussie lamb for the last 10 years. At the other end, Kylie Bell from the Australian Consulate gave us the happy news it was already available at Nature’s Basket, priced roughly at par with premium seafood, waiting to be taken home for a special dinner. Having resolved to drop in at the Bandra store on my way back home, which is a 2-min walk from my hungry kitchen, I settled back with the others to continue with the lamb pageant!
Pretty plates of Seared Lamb Loin with Quinoa Salad and Lamb Shank Pie with Orange Gremolata sashayed in. Conversations drifted inevitably to the sports obsession shared by both India and Australia, especially cricket, Aussie favourites amongst Bollywood stars, and the eternal Sydney-Melbourne war that is so much like our Mumbai-Delhi one-upmanship. When I finally wiped off the last speck of pie crumb from my plate, the servers placed a large reddish globe-like dessert in front of me. The Royal Chocolate Cake, with a crunchy dense mousse and a berry compote, was the only non-lamb dish on the menu, Chef Tafe apologized. But there’s always a next time, he said mysteriously. What, a lamb dessert? No! Yes!!