My experience with South American food at Lima- BKC
Bombay is slowly adding new cuisines to its list. From South African to South American or from molecular gastronomy to food recipes concocted by the Indian diaspora abroad, the scenario is just getting better. Now, while its always good to have some sort of reference to know whether the food is on point, it never hurts to expose yourself to new flavors and cuisines just to get started.
Why I was excited about Lima?
Well if you are an ardent fan of Masterchef franchise, namely the US one (I love Australia more), you’ll remember Christine Ha making this really delicious looking Crab Ceviche cocktail. I was so tempted to try it that I googled and googled and tried to hunt down every restaurant that may have it. No luck.
Then years later, we hear about Chef Atul Kocchar introducing Mumbai to Peruvian food which has a multicultural history. The cuisine reflects both local ingredients and strong European (mainly Spanish, Italian and German), Asian (Chinese and Japanese) and West African influences.
You’ll find a lot of bold flavours, acidic, creamy and starchy goods in their food. Allow us to walk you through all of it.
Their menu is divided into six parts. We have Ceviches, Tiradito, Salads, Churrasco grills, Antojitos and Desserts..big big names, I know. But I’ll explain them all to you as we go.
All about the place:
The place is dimly lit and had a massive bar. Crowded with people around evening. Chef Jerry and his team welcomed us, gave us a short brief as to what the place is all about. We were told there were no Pisco (A popular South American brandy) cocktails available which are the highlight of the South American bar scene, so we went ahead with a Mai Tai and Gin.
We kick-started the meal with some interesting salads which were brought to us in the form of appetizers that would stir up our appetite a little. First up was the Five Bean Salad.
This slaw is good if you enjoy chomping on beans. Beans were soaked therefore had a soft skin and were creamy. The first bite ended with a spicy taste in our mouth due to the Aji Amarillo salsa dressing (Peruvian yellow chilli dressing.) Different beans added different textures and flavors to the salad, whereas the micro greens added the fresh crunch, and the tomatoes added the acidity. You can kill me for saying this but it is a lot like a chana chaat with a creamy Peruvian dressing :D. This well-balanced salad is traditionally served with cured Indian Sea Bass.
Next up was the Quinoa Salad. This one had a mix of white, red and black Quinoa, which is a staple in Peru and very very healthy. Tossed in chilli oil and passion fruit dressing, Quinoa was nice and fluffy and slightly sweet due to the passion fruit, with a hit of spice(due to the chilli oil) towards the end. The Quinoa to me, tasted like tiny sprouts. Though it tastes like a grain this is actually a seed. A super-food, Quinoa is a popular staple rich in iron, fibre and protein. I wasn’t a big fan of the flavor profile but interesting nonetheless..
Right after these extremely healthy salads the exciting stuff began. The Ceviches. South America’s best-kept secret which is only going to become more popular from here. All Latin American countries have their own version of this dish and get as creative with it as possible. They can be served along with nuts, pop-corn, slices of onions and toasted tortillas, cold slices of sweet potato or even corn on the cob.
If you’re worried that you’re eating raw fish remember that there is a chemical reaction that takes place with the acids in these citrus fruits that preserve the meat and make it opaque and thick, very similar to what happens when you cook the meat. Salt cured meats have salt actually flushing out water from micro-organisms on the fish, which retard their growth and preserve the fish. There are different ways to cure meat. This ancient practice of preserving meat has been a big part of the new-age cuisine.
One last thing it is pronounced as SAYYYY-VEE-CHAY, this is one dish I have been waiting to try for YEARS!
Now came the Sea Bass Ceviche. Lime cured Indian sea bass, topped with avocado, onions and spices. Cubes of Sea Bass are served with something called the Tiger Milk which is a mixture of lime juice, cilantro, ginger garlic and yellow chilli paste. This one was so fresh, acidic and needless to say, delicious. Beautifully cured fish for some reason was not very fishy. I may have lapped up the tiger’s milk separately a couple of times.
Next in Ceviches was the Grouper Strawberry Ceviche. Grouper cubes, in strawberry milk. If you’ve seen Grouper as a fish, it looks pretty grumpy. And then imagine it in this pretty little glass dipped in tangy Strawberry dressing. I preferred the Sea Bass Ceviche to this. 10 points for creativity, though!
Grouper Strawberry Ceviche
Yucca Fries with Chilli Mayo- These I found ok. Just a thicker substitute to fries.
Next up was my favorite so far.. The Peruvian version of Sashimi, Tuna Tiradito. This dish was incredible and delicate in every way. Beautifully cut, cured Tuna.. served with Chia seeds and Aji paste, plated like a pretty postcard. I have to add, these dishes are very authentic and not light on the pocket. A dish like this would cost you a whooping Rs.1250. But oh man! I’m so glad to have tried this. The crunch from onions, the saltiness from the fish the smooth spicy salsa. I really loved it.Can’t wait to taste more of it if I ever get to travel to that side of the world.
For the vegetarians there is a very similar option and trust me, for some reason you won’t feel that big of a difference.
Papaya Tiradito which has thin slices of Papaya with Ponzu, a brown sauce with a tart taste and watery in texture, yellow aji salsa, shallots and micro greens. So many things going on with the tart, chilli, spicy accents from the onions and freshness of micro greens all coming together. We gobbled it up with just as much love as the Tuna.
One of the best thing we tasted that night was this Churrasco grilled Chimichurri Chicken Liver and unfortunately our pictures don’t do justice to it. It was delicious! Like a burst of flavors in my mouth. The liver when over cooked can be a bit dry and weird tasting, but here it was perfectly cooked and tender.
The chimichurri is a marinating sauce in Central and Southern America, which comprises of finely chopped parsley, garlic, vegetable oil, oregano and white vinegar (in some cases red chilli flakes and no vinegar).
The dominant flavours of this sauce depend on the region, really. Lima’s version of Chimichurri contains Andean Herbs as a key ingredient in its marinating sauce. If I’m coming back to Lima this is on my list of things to eat.
There was a good mix of meats. Sea-food followed by some chicken, but Nothing is complete without PRAWNS (or how the Chef likes to call it Frawns.) Before we could finish praising the liver we had some Prawns marinated in Limo chilli and Worcestershire sauce.
Really liked the flavors but the prawns were a little tough to eat. Dunno if it was under cooked or just the way it was. It’s a pity because no one loves Prawns in some spicy tangy sauce more than I do. I prefer well cooked Prawns that are laden with simple delicious flavors.
We know that Peruvian cuisine is influenced by East Asian flavors as well. Chicken Gochujang is one such dish which reflects that. Chicken thigh generously marinated in Gochujang sauce (savory, spicy, and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt) maintaining the slight pungent and savory taste while the honey adds that subtle sweet flavor. Loved it! Very few places nail this kinda stuff. The juiciness, the over-all flavor, not overly sweet. I’ll go ahead and recommend this one.
This is as South American as it can get. Palm of Hearts is something you won’t find in any regular restaurant. These are cylindrical shaped, ivory colored stems, covered with husk. Palm of hearts has a fleshy center, looks like asparagus, tastes like artichoke and has a very subtle flavor. These were served with Amaranth which is again a South American staple and can be dated back to the Aztecs (Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people of central Mexico in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.) Rich in fiber this dish reflects how Peruvian cooking is very healthy.
It was time for Main Course, after feeding us soooo much food, believe it or not they actually said that to us.
Main course was not something different, if you ask me. After all the fabulous appetizers we ate just before.
There were Quesadillas, Chimichurri Lamb stew, fried rice..
While it was tasty it did not meet the same level of excitement we had for the apps..
I preferred the starters way more..
I really liked Lima because I got to try something new. I would recommend it for all the exquisite Ceviches, Tiraditos and that Chimichurri Liver. Well done Chef Jerry and team and thank you Chef Atul for introducing Bombay to something new! 🙂
Value for Money: Though its mainly Bar food, the dishes are a little towards the expensive side. Multiple visits will be needed to try all the good stuff.
(The Bombay Foodies had been invited to check out Lima. The staff and chef knew of us coming but honest reviews have been given by the reviewers.)
Photo Credits: Some photos were clicked by Ameera Ali Soni, who also live Snap Chatted the entire affair.
Well I haven’t exactly been all over South America. So here are all my references to help me write this post for you 🙂