The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen – Raided

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Bihari Cuisine, now what the hell is that? All I knew was that they eat lot of Dal Chawal and off late I got to know about Litti Chokha and that is the extent of my knowledge about Bihari Food. For past few weeks, name of ‘The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen’ had popped up a few times, and them serving Bihari cuisine managed to spike up major interest.  So as usual, one Saturday night, a bunch of us got together and decided to raid the place.

As we were about to enter, a lady who is from FED was getting out, and she is from Bihar. She told us that food was good, and she tried Veg Pakodas and Shrimps and can definitely recommend them. Her feedback added to our excitement levels and we eagerly climbed the four floors. Third floor was kitchen, and then the rooftop which is the dining area. 

The ‘Rooftop’ Cafe
The ‘Rooftop’ Cafe
FEDs waiting to be served

The first reaction as we saw the restaurant was “Where is the rooftop?”, “Why are there full height walls and a roof on the rooftop?” What me and others thought rooftop restaurant meant was an open dining area, with only atmosphere separating you and the sky. But alas, Potbelly is a rooftop with a roof, not a partial roof, but roof and walls that would make it a hall (with AC and the works). It does have huge windows and I am sure in afternoons would offer great views too. Coming to décor, the first words that hit my mind was chic – which was now common. It instantly reminded me of few other places that I am regular too. Very acceptable for a café, but in these times, nothing out of the ordinary.

Now it was time to start ordering, and as we were waiting for few other people to join in, we decided to have a look at the drinks menu. Avoiding the shakes, for the sake of our appetites, we ordered Apple Lemonades and Mirch Masala Lemonades. Apple lemonade was brilliant to say the least, which small chunks of apple and mint leaves to it. Thankfully there was no artificial flavor added to it, and the chunks of apple gave it the subtlety that we appreciated.  The Mirch Masala Lemonade though reminded us of Jalzeera and Gol Gappe ka paani. Before we move from the drinks part, here it needs to be mentioned that in later stages of out meal, we also ordered a shake, which was never served. Why? No Clue.

For starters we ordered a Pakora Basket, Parontha Basket (Rs.120 each) and Phish Phingers (Rs.260). Pakoras were quite good, well spiced, well fried. Paronthas were standard and gave no reason to complain, however first surprise of the evening came in fish fingers (Phish Fingers), though as suggested by my non vegetarian friends, it was well done, however the quantity left a LOT to be desired. Apparently no one expected it to have 5 sticks (fingers) only with similar number of potato chips.  And honestly that set the tone for the evening.

Parontha Platter
Pakora Platter
The Phish Phinger Platte
When it came to main courses, 7 of us ordered 3 platters of Litti Chokha, 2 vegetarian platters, 2 non-vegetarian platters and one seafood platter (more like a starter it was).  We ordered:

  • Litti Chokha (Rs. 210) – 3 Portions
  • Makhana Thali (Rs. 230)
  • Maithili Masala Thali (Rs. 230)
  • Gol Mirch Chicken (Rs. 260)
  • Mutton Chaamp (Rs.260)
  • Dehati Fish’n’Chips (Rs.290)
  • Jhinga Machhli (Rs.290) 

And just to complete the list, I am also adding the starters from before.
  • Pakora Basket (Rs.120)
  • Parontha Basket (Rs.120)
  • Phish Phingers (Rs. 260)
PHEW! That looks like a lot of food in 7 people.

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Surprise! Even after having all that food, almost all of us were looking to go out and eat some paranthas at moolchand or IIFT Dhabhas to fill ourselves up. Yup, that is how small the portions were and that is how unsatisfied we all felt.

No one actually liking what they ate does not even matter here because we hardly have any knowledge about Bihari food, and lack of appreciation can be attributed to lack of palette.  However I doubt they eat such small portions. I cannot even start to describe the reaction we had when we were seeing the portions and servings. Dehati fish seemed like a pakora, in finer words fish coated with batter and fried. However people can only appreciate finer flavors of batter and fish, if they ever stopped looking for the fish inside the batter shell. 

Jhinga Machhli

Gol Mirch Chicken

Mutton Chaamp
Vegetarians faired a bit better, mind you only a bit. Before I started writing this, I was planning on recommending Litti Chokha and concluding that I would visit the place again for the same. However I was under the impression that it was priced at Rs.120 per serving. But now when I look at the menu I realize that I was under the wrong impression, and I doubt if I would recommend that as well.

But giving credit where it is due, the Aubergine mashes which were served to us with Litti, paronthas and other dishes were quite amazing. They had brilliant flavors and were done very well. The Chana Dal they served with Litti was mind blowing and was highlight of the evening. I wish they would use that dal with other things as well. Litti was well baked, however I feel that it was quite dry from inside and could have definitely used a longer dip in the ghee. On the other hand Maithali Masala thali which had Paneer-mushroom-peas dish served with puris, had so much oil it in, and that it numbed my senses for a while. The fact that puris themselves were quite oily, did not help my cause at all. 

Makhana Thali

Maithili Masala Thali
Have already mentioned the shake that was never served but that was not our only disappointment from service, which was found considerably lacking. Towards the end someone who seemed to be incharge (owner?) came up to us, asked about our feedback and offered apologies for bad service. He said they were new, learning the ropes and short staffed. This was quite understood and appreciated by our group. However after admitting to lousy service you do not charge the 10% service charge, and that too when the group was evidently not happy. 
Litti Chokha
And the final nail, our bill was Rs.3762 with 10% service charge. Since there was a service charge, I was not looking to leave a tip. I left Rs.3800 in cash and kept waiting at my table for balance, which never came.
Oh! And they did not have any desserts at 9:30 pm on a Saturday evening.

I understand being new and upcoming, however at those prices, you better have your act together before you take the order. 

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Pahar Ganj, with a Multani Twist – by Pankaj Sain

Today After dropping someone off at the New Delhi Railway station at 7.00 am I decided to go to Multani Dhanda in Paharganj area near the station to pick up a Multani Mukund Vadies. 
As I was buying those in Gali No.6 (Multan Moth Walla) I chanced upon an old man selling some Multani Moth Kackori and Moth dal chawal. As a true foodie just could not stop myself and found myself eating the awesome treats from this 80+ year old man who informed me that he has been doing so since the last 50+ years !!
Experienced hand. Serving Moth Kachori.
I was a wonderful experience as I chatted with him for a long time about how that part of town has changed over years and about Multan (now in Pakistan), about the partition as my maternal family hail from there too.
After that I walked up to Gali No.7 to a place called Janata Sweets which is also 50+ years old.The serve the most phenomenal piping hot Malpuras and Halwa Followed by delectable Peethi Ki Poori and Chhola!! This visit was an eye opener all inspired by all you great guys at FED!!
Pooris being made
Old School
The front of the shop.
I highly recommend these two places and the Mukund Vadies (a great substitute for meat) are to die for !!
Text & Pictures by Pankaj Sain
Edited by Shashank Aggarwal
 To share your experiences, reviews, recipes, food pictures etc, mail them to shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com 

Breakfast at Standard Burfee, Karol Bagh

After much deliberation on where to eat and what to eat for breakfast on a Saturday morning, I finally decided to settle down at Standard Sweets/Burfee in Karol Bagh.

Had a plate of Chhole Puri, with a plate of dahi, then a Kachori (served with same chhole), and halwa with puda. Chhole Puri were fantastic, amongst the best that I have ever had. Highlight of the entire meal was the Aloo ka achar that they serve. It actually went very well with Puri Chhole, tantalizing on taste buds and unlike anything that I have ever had before. 

Though halwa and pude seem to be quite famous there, however one bite into puda, it managed to kill my appetite. It was an overdose of Desi Ghee and that left such a strong flavor in my mouth that it overwhelmed my senses. Halwa was quite nice, however I am not sure how can people enjoy that puda. Or maybe I just got a bad piece.
Now kachodi seemed to be the one which had maximum to loose after that bite of Puda. Either I was overwhelmed by the Desi Ghee or we can call it law of diminishing returns, but Kachori received least favor from me and was left half uneaten. Plus I like kachori with Aloo ki Subzi, and standard serves it with Chhole itself.

All in all, absolutely brilliant Puri Chhole (make sure you order a portion of curd with it), and I would definitely go back to try other stuff once again.

My Rating – 3.5 / 5 (if only Puri, then 4/5)

Chinese – the Culinaire way!

For we all keep repeating to everybody around us, and in the heart of our hearts believe the same. “Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai” or “All that glitters is gold”.

Well, that doesn’t hold true in the case of a roadside neighborhood restaurant which looks like a “Dhaba” and you are literally sitting on the road while dining. It does have a tiny inside sitting and a washroom too (Mind you, this can be a concern for a lot of people).
Coming to the name and fame of this place, this joint is known as CULINAIRE and is a stand-alone joint located in the S-block, Chandan market of Greater Kailash Part-2. The cuisines they serve are Lebanese, Thai and Chinese.
Looking at the size of the place, one at first glance would not believe the variety it offers. The standard and quality of the place is maintained and is only open during lunch and dinner hours. It provides the facility of take away and home delivery also, besides dining there.
An average meal for two would be around Rs. 600-800.
One shouldn’t be surprised to know that the place always has waiting, and people from all over Delhi and NCR come here to eat. Its been there for 15 years and has no branches anywhere else.
Being a Vegetarian my favorites there are the Burnt garlic rice, Chilly garlic noodles, Spring rolls, Manchurian and Veggies in black pepper sauce. One cannot resist ordering at least a second helping of the Dimsums there, they are just phenomenal. The soup and starters are to die for.
Its a must try for all you Chinese lovers. Open all 7 days a week.
Everything is served hot on the platter, has a helper boy standing there to help one to park properly to avoid chaos and give coffee bites with the bill. (that is something I completely love about the place – the feeling of nostalgia with coffee bites).

Culinaire

1, Chandan Market, 
S Block, Greater Kailash 2,
New Delhi









Nightmare in Machan – The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi

Until now I have always written nice things about the places I’ve been to, because, well, somehow they turn out good. So here goes my first negative review about one of the posh restaurants in Delhi. Hope they don’t sue me after this but I merely wish to say that a place cannot keep resting on its past laurels. 
So this nightmarish experience happened in the least likely places of all – Machan at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi
A few of my friends had come and they wanted to eat North Indian cuisine. So based on the recommendations of one of my loyal foodie friends, we decided to go to Varq in The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. But when we reached at 2.40, Varq was closed. Apparently they only serve food from 12.30 till 2.30 (what the hell is that!!!). I was too tired and didn’t want to go and search anywhere else, so we settled for Machan, located in the same premises. 
So there were three of us and we ordered 4 dishes and 3 drinks, nothing that would confuse anyone in any other restaurant. Also the place was moderately filled. It wasn’t overflowing with people at all, lest the management could blame the shoddy service on the fact that the crowd was unmanageable.
We ordered a palak paneer with corns along with rice; a veg burger, a veg kathi roll filled with paneer (this was meant for me and was called PMKK, no clue what that stands for) and a chicken dish called Kanha Kebab Delight- Chicken Tikka filled in Garlic Bread. The drinks included an ice tea and 2 lime sodas. Each one of us gave our orders separately so it was really clear who ordered what. Even if the waiting staff didn’t know, it’s common sense to say the name of the dish out loud while serving so that it goes to the correct person.
So the orders came in and the waiting staff got our food and kept them in front of us without saying anything and rushed away before we could react. We all were a little distracted because we were talking and also very hungry. So we started eating what was kept in front of us. The palak dish and the burger belonged to my friend and he started gobbling it, while I was eating, what I discovered later, the chicken dish. I realized at this point that another dish was missing. So I called the waiting staff, who by the way was really busy and didn’t care to notice us. I called out to one of them and asked about the 4th dish. He said the kathi roll is taking a little time. At this point I realised he said “kathi roll”. Immediately I asked the name of the dish that I was eating. He said it was the chicken dish. I had just taken 4 bites of a chicken dish. OOO MY GOD… Well I should tell at this point that I am a VEGETARIAN and I had just eaten chicken. I have nothing against non vegetarian food at all. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to eating it because as a child I once saw a man butchering a chicken with blood oozing out and that incident is etched in my memory. So it is safe to say I was feeling queasy at this point.
I told the waiter that I am a vegetarian and he had just served me a chicken dish. He was unperturbed as if stuff like this always happened and he couldn’t care less. I thought that there was no point making a scene because this could happen (not to anyone I know and especially not at a five star where I was paying 5k for the damn lunch). I told him to change the dish and bring a fresh one for my friend, for whom it was meant. In the meanwhile, I thought I should eat my kathi roll which had come by then, because starving myself will only make me more nauseous.
If one thought all this was bad, wait for the best part. The waiter came back with the same dish with only the side of the bread cut, the part which I had eaten. Also the dish was garnished with 2 olives and I had eaten one of them. So when the “new” dish came, it was cut on the side and was missing one olive. So there was one bread which had 4 sides and the other bread on the plate had 5 sides, like someone had cut off from the side.
I immediately recognized that it wasn’t a fresh one but the old one which I had eaten and which was merely served back. I called the waiter and explained the situation and he replied with a bold “this is what the chef gave me” and went away WITHOUT listening to what I had to say.
I was furious. I called up the girl who had shown us to our table and asked her to let the manager know that I wanted to speak to him. He came immediately (thankfully) and I explained the entire situation, the chicken being fed to a vegetarian, the bread being cut off on the side etc and told him in clear terms that I wanted a fresh dish and not the one cut on the sides and that was willing to pay for both the dishes, the one that I ate and the fresh one. I just wanted my friend to have her food. It was almost 4 pm and she was obviously very hungry. He went and came back with a fresh dish with 4 cornered breads, garnished with 2 olives. Thankfully someone understood.
The rude waiter didn’t come and apologies for the goof up. I told the manager that we had ordered a masala chai too and hoped that it won’t get screwed up and come on time. The manager ensured the masala chai came and also sent a small pastry as an apology. But the waiter screwed up that as well and gave it to my male friend instead of me with whom the entire screw up happened. Seeing this, the manager sent the pastries for me as well as my other friend to cover up for another obvious embarrassment.
I just wanted to get out of there as soon as I could and waited for my friend to finish his tea. When the bill came, I was shocked to see that they had charged for the chicken dish (thankfully only once!!!). Had it been the West, the whole meal would have been free of charge, let alone the chicken dish.
I was surprised at the shoddy service, the lack of interest and absolute disregard shown to the guests at Machan, Taj. At a time when other restaurants are going that extra mile to make sure the experience is something to remember by, Machan has certainly made sure that this experience is something that I will not forget.
In the evening, I called them again and gave a feedback that this wasn’t expected at all and that I had a horrible experience and the manager said the next time I go there, great care will taken. Ummm??? No lunch or dinner invite but great care that will be taken NEXT time. Well, shouldn’t great care be taken every time, considering that this is the TAJ, one of THE posh hotels?? Doesn’t it have a legacy to protect? Even if we blame the waiters, shouldn’t they be trained well so that they can distinguish between paneer and chicken? And do they really think I will take a chance and go there next time to see what they will be serving me this time? This experience has made me stay away from every Taj restaurant and I will make sure to broadcast this incident amongst all my friends to stay away too especially from MACHAN!!!!

PS : In the Vintage Machan section of their menu, they have PMKK “1978” – cottage cheese, onion, capsicum and mint chutney in a roomali wrap.  And the other dish was Kanha Kebab Delight – chicken tikka filed in grilled garlic bread.

Chhole Kulche at Janpat – By Tanvi Gupta

If you are a Janpath regular, and want to have a proper meal without burning a hole in your pocket, its better to skip the chaat, and cross the road to enter the lane opposite shop no. 38. Keep going straight, some about 50-60 footsteps until you see a shed on the left, over-flooded with people. There is where, you get three dishes only, Chhole-chawal, Chhole-kulcha and Chhole-bhatura, but each one to die for. 

As a student one always has a tight pocket and wants to weigh each penny spent properly whether it be on food, their crushes or shopping. Janpath being a direct bus from college (Hauz Khas), was easiest to reach, best to hang out as it had everything from flea shopping, books, street food and of-course, haggling.

A bunch of us would make weekly visits there, unless we got tired of the food there. One day, while taking pictures of the area around we ended up noticing this big overcrowded shed. Our curiosity led us to find out what was the crowd puller there. We were right, it was a bunch of young office goers who came to attend a call to their hunger. Good, cheap street food was what it was.A very organized way of paying, getting the token and further receiving your food was what led us to try it too.The very first bite left us wanting for more.

This food stall has been there for more than 20-25 years now. Hats off, they have managed to retain the quality and the taste.

On the menu:

Chhole-chawal, Chhole-kulcha and Chhole-bhatura. Each ranging between Rs.30-45. The quantity, quality and the taste is enough to give your taste buds a feeling of satisfaction and a high, that lasts till you have your next meal. To balance the spices out, a ‘thela-waala’ stands there, to provide you with chhota Coke bottles and water.

Must try, if you happen to go there and you are lucky if your office is located there anyways.
Very popularly, known as the BHOGAL CHHOLE KULCHE WAALA. Available from 1pm-3:30pm

Written by Tanvi Gupta

Edited by Shashank Aggarwal
 To share your experiences, reviews, recipes, food pictures etc, mail them to shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com 

Chhole Bhature and Naan (Near Vikram Hotel)

And we come to it again, Chhole Bhature, which I am often heard saying is my favorite food in the world.  Whenever Chhole Bhature comes up, mention of Nagpal is inevitable, and while we are in Amar Colony / Lajpat Nagar, Sharma Ji also finds a mention in conversations. When recommendations became quite regular, it became hard for me to ignore it. So this Sunday morning we planned a Raid and landed up at Vikram hotel.

Chhole Bhature from Sharma ji !
frying the Bhaturas
Bhature

Now what came as real surprise was that this was not a ‘shop’ but a push-cart. And for someone to make this kind of reputation operating from a push cart is quite a big deal. Now talking about food, honestly speaking I was quite taken aback by the first look of Chhole, they were not what I look forward to eating with Bhaturas. They were not dry, oily and dark. Bottom-line – not Bhature waale Chhole. Those Chhole were the ones we eat with Puri, Samosa, Rice, Break Pakora etc., but not with Bhature. They tasted exactly like the ones my mom makes at home, and that means a lot, as my mom knows her spices pretty well. The pickle of ginger, aamla and green chilly  was quite good.

Enjoying the Goodies

Ginger and Aamla achaar

 Out of 7-8 of us, and anyone who was having them for the first time, was not too excited about them. Not the typical taste we associate with Chhole Bhature. However if Non-greasy, home-like is your thing, then you would love Sharma Ji. As said earlier, making Chhole like my mom, is not an easy task.

Now our Sharma Ji is ‘parked’ right next to Sanjay and Vijay Naan waalas. I have tried Vijay before, and left a bit dry by Sharma Ji, we thought of giving Sanjay a shot for his Chur Chur Naans. We ordered Chur Chur variety of Soya Mutter, Paneer, Daal and mixed Naan. The Naans were not really crisp as I expect my Chur Chur naans to be be. However though not the best example of Chur Chur naans, they were still decent enough.

Chur Chur Naan
A part of our table 😉

The morning got a closing with Chai from Moolchand Paranthe waala. Which often is an ignored entity compared to the more legendary Paranthas they serve.

Overall, I am not too fond on Sharma Ji as of now, because if I want to eat Chhole made like home, then I will eat at home itself. When I go out for Chhole Bhature, my idea is different than what Sharma ji serves, though I would not mind eating from him again.

Food Enthusiasts of Delhi
Being a resident of West Delhi, I am literally spoilt for choice, but you might end up loving them if you like simpler things in life, ;-).
Location – Look out for Push-Carts selling Naans and Chhole Bhature near  Hotel Vikram. (Nearest Metro Station – Moolchand)