Bespoke Thai Cuisine by AROI | Indie Eats
On an especially rainy Saturday afternoon, Ronak Rajani, the Founder of Mumbai Foodie and myself stepped into Kabir Moorjani’s beautiful home in Lokhandwala. Upon first glance, you can immediately spot the South East Asian influence in the home décor and smells coming from his kitchen. Kabir grew up loving Thai food having spent almost every family holiday in Thailand since the age of five. After a stint at Les Roches, Switzerland, he spent a year in Thailand at Le Cordon Bleu turning his passion into practice. He spent his days at classes and evenings at the homes of friends, learning from their mothers and grandmothers, documenting family recipes that had been passed down through generations.
Kabir, at the age of only 25 is now ready to bring the culture, cuisine and country that he loves so much, to Mumbai. AROI honours the essence of Thai culture by staying true to those flavours, textures and balances. Currently, AROI only does private, bespoke dinners where Kabir and his team take over your kitchen and serve up majestic Thai feasts. Each dining experience at AROI is specially tailored to highlight Thai classics as well as specially crafted signature dishes with modern plating using fresh seasonal ingredients. Everything is handmade, including their pastes and curries, giving each dish a totally unique and multi-layered taste.
Our first course was a Pomelo Salad or Yam Sohm Oh, something I’ve had before but never like this. Made with fresh pomelos imported from Thailand, each bite was a mix of bitter fruit, sweet palm sugar, sour lemon juice and tangy tamarind. I personally couldn’t handle the bitterness of the pomelo but I could appreciate the highly nuanced and multi-dimensional flavours present in this simple salad.
Next came the Nahm Tok Nue, a beef salad dressed in a homemade mixture of spices. The meat was tender and lightly seared, topped with a textural dressing made of four secret ingredients. I loved the flavours here and though I really couldn’t identify what the red dressing was made of, I was ready for another serving. This is a recipe Kabir learnt during his travels in North Thailand where he was lucky enough to cook with a 60-year-old lady at the back of her tiny restaurant.
We then moved on to the Tom Kha Gai, a galangal soup with chicken. Kabir wanted to offer us an experience unique from those we might have had at other Thai restaurants and told us that was why he stayed away from the more typical Tom Kha Gai. This soup was absolutely perfect for the weather we were having, watching the rain lash down onto his large terrace, this steaming bowl of galangal, chicken broth, chicken, shimeji mushrooms and a cilantro emulsion was the definition of monsoon magic. The soup was gently flavoured with a hint of spices, bird’s eye chill and was warming, soothing and delicious on so many levels.
No Thai meal is complete without the quintessential curry however, both Ronak and I were stunned at what we received in the Gaeng Phed with Baby Lobster. A thick, rich, red curry served with a baby lobster tail. Kabir told us that he hand grinds the spices to create the base for each of his curries, not using packaged pastes and sauces. This is what gave the curry such deep flavours and bold colours. There was none of that packaged sweetness that one gets with coconut milk, which Kabir even extracts by hand! The curry was layered with flavours, none of which were familiar to me. If you know me at all, then you know that one thing that makes a memorable meal for me is experiencing something I have never tasted before and this was exactly that. The lobster was perfectly cooked and was served with the trendy, blue-hued, butterfly pea rice. The highlight of our meal!
To close things, we were served a Phad Thai Goong which was basically phad thai with prawns. As a disclaimer, I must say that I’m not a fan of phad Thai and unfortunately this dish was no different. The noodles (which Kabir hopes to eventually make from scratch but doesn’t have the bandwidth to do so right now) were slightly overcooked creating a gooey, stodgy consistency. The flavours however made up for the lack of texture. Not overly sweet or clawing, the dish featured rice noodles tossed in a homemade phad thai sauce, followed by bean sprouts, greens and ground roasted peanuts. I felt the dish was well-balanced and quite fresh, something I imagine having on a beach in Krabi while watching the waves come crashing in, versus watching the Mumbai monsoon wreak havoc!
Kabir is happy to cater for private dinners and parties and tries to limit the courses to five and the guest list to under 30. I really enjoyed my meal with AROI, not only for the myriad flavours, textures and the authenticity of it all but also because of Kabir’s depth of knowledge about Thai food and the culture. He is happy to share his stories from Thailand while he serves up your food and has lots to tell you about where his ingredients are sourced and the history behind each dish. Overall, this isn’t the Thai meal for someone who wants the same food they’ve been eating for years, it’s for those who enjoy trying new things and want a taste of all the depth and dimensions that make up Thai food.
Get in touch with Chef Kabir Moorjani at +919819790383 or firstname.lastname@example.org