As we settled in for our chat, Mariki Sayles told me that this wasn’t her first trip to Mumbai. “I was here this time last year and gorged on all the homemade food that Siddharth’s family made for me. The dessert with sweet grated carrots (gajar halwa) was my favourite and oh my God, the mangoes! I can’t get enough of them!” Evidently, she loves her desserts! “It’s true, I never feel like a meal is complete unless I’ve had something sweet at the end of it,” she laughs.
Sayles and Somaiya have been friends since the time he worked in New York. “Everyone in restaurant life hangs out together after work and gets a beer to unwind and complain about the day,” she tells me. Needless to say, she’s been part of Somaiya’s journey as he set up The Bao Haus Co. and had been urging him to take his creations to a larger audience — and a pop-up seemed like the perfect way to start.
“Tamarind, sesame, lemongrass and herbs – these are some of the elements I’m looking to work with this weekend,” she tells me, as she works on her 6 cocktails. She’s not one to shy away from elements of molecular mixology, but for her, none of it is gimmicky and is more about extracting and infusing elements for flavour and texture. These cocktails will complement the flavours of Somaiya’s Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings, a Bahn Mi Bruschetta, the bestseller baos and even some Burrata with Basil Foam and Cranberry Puree!
Just as it’s time for me to leave, I asked Mariki for some tips for the rest of us who like to mix some cocktails at home, “Don’t be afraid to experiment, “ she’s quick to tell me. “And food, savoury flavours can be a great source of inspiration too, like not many would think of combining tamarind and sesame in a cocktail, but that’s where it came from,” she signs off.
Catch the ‘Panacea’ pop-up at House of Tales in Kala Ghoda on 25th & 26th March. There will be two seatings – 8 pm and 10:30pm, call 022-22043446 for details.