New Khalsa Restaurant – True Punjabi Food : By Rajeev Gulati

It’s a 40 years old establishment serving excellent Punjabi style Veg & Non-Veg food. Most sought after dishes are Kaleji Dana (Liver Coated and Cooked in Tandoor), Mutton Burra, Chicken Curry and the best and most unique dish – Chicken Cooked on Tawa with Magaz (Goat Brain) Gravy.
Click to Enlarge.
I went specially looking for their Chicken Magaz Curry and ordered a quarter plate. Other options are a half or a full chicken. It was one Breast Piece of Robust & smokey Tandoori Chicken cooked in creamy thick gravy infused with super soft creamy Magaz (Goat Brain).
Although I’ve had it earlier also but it has been few years since I last ate this unique dish with them. Chicken was perfectly cooked and gravy was incomparable to anything else I’ve had. Very Tasty… Very Unique. Magaz was adding a creamy texture to the overall dish.
Free Onion were missing making way for the humble Cucumber and Raddish. They served two types of Chutney. .. the usual Mint (very good) and the other one…. a very unusual and distinctive “Red Chilly and Raw Garlic” Chutney. Hot & Robust, just like Punjab.
Another surprise was crisp Tandoori Roti made with full bodied red wheat…. which is very hard to find thsee days in restaurants opting instead to serve white maida rotis which limp within few minutes of serving. These remained crisp even after 15 minutes of serving.
All in all…. a must visit place if you’re a Punjabi or you love Punjabi dhaba type cuisine.
New Khalsa Restaurant
C-212, Mayapuri Phase II, New Delhi
Written by Rajeev Gulati

El Posto – Western Winds in Eastern Lands of Delhi

East Delhi or Jamna paar as people from other parts of Delhi call it, can be easily termed as the deprived lands of Delhi. Though I keep hearing about the street food options in that area, but the restaurant scene has never been able to excite me. So when I received an email telling me about El Posto and inviting me for a review, I jumped on the offer. Was excited to see some western food in that part of town.
El Posto seems to position itself as Italian and Spanish place, however I doubt they do any of them in a authentic way. The food that they serve is definitely heard towards Indian palette, has no health factor and is delicious, well mostly.

Bakery’s Showcase
They have a decent looking coffee machine, so I am assuming they do decent coffee.
They sell fresh breads
Fresh cookies

Walking in the place, it does have a premium feel to it with Bakery and Cafe on ground floor and first floor being what they say is fine dining. However as far as aesthetics go could feel the money being poured in, however the first floor definitely lacked the finer details and the premium feel falls apart on a closer look. 

Coming to the most important part now, food. They do not serve alcohol and have no immediate plans of doing that. We started off with ordering 3 drinks from their mocktail menu and couple of shakes they have on offer. The fruit pastry shake though very filling and thick lacked presentation and felt more like a plain vanilla shake. Personally I liked the taste of it, however my two dining partners Shashank Arora & Shweta Mittal felt that it was too plain. the Chocolate shake named AK Choco 47 was definitely very rich in chocolate flavor and I found no reason to complain the mocktails the drink called Italian Smooch was the pick for the lot, while Lemon & mint Julep was strictly decent. The frozen mango margarita did not go down well with any of us.

AK Choco 47 – The chocolate shake.
The Fruit Pastry Shake
Italian Smooch
Lemon and mint Julep
Frozen Mango Margarita

Bruschetta Chicken Arabiatta and for vegetarians a Bruschetta layered with grilled cottage cheese was ordered, surprisingly the veg one went down better with all three of us while Chicken one was not bad at all as well. Stuffed Mushrooms that we ordered were quite a disappointment with no taste in the filling, while I also thought that batter in which they were coated and fried could have been better.

Bruschetta with Cottage Cheese layering
Another look at the Cottage cheese Bruschetta  (vegetarian)
Chicken Arabiata Bruschetta
Stuffed Mushrooms – did not like them much.
We got excited seeing the Tacos in the menu, have never eaten them outside India so would not know what authentic are, and wherever I have eaten them in India, have got a different version. Different shells, different fillings, different sauces. So was not surprised when the taco that was served to us by El Posto was something I was not able to identify. But then who gives a damn about the appearances. One bite into the fish taco, I knew it was a gluttonous beast and I should not be eating that however I just could not stop. If fish one was good, then the vegetarian version was extremely good. They put a Tikki inside it, which I liked because of the spices used in it, just added that punch to the Taco for me, or maybe I am too desi and love my food Indianised. Fyi – They use the same Tikki / Patty in their burger which is priced at Rs.45 only (Bakery Section).

Vegetarian Taco – LOVED it! 
Fish Tacos
Closer look at the Fish Tacos
Though none of us is really a salad person, however we thought we would give it a shot as there was a 5 cheese salad on the menu and how can I say no to cheese. The salad came with Apples, Kiwi and Lettuce amongst other things however after much fishing all the pieces of the cheese that I got were of the same type and even that was too brittle. Not sure which one was that though. Another disappointment for sure.

They have a decent selection of pizzas, however the ones that excited us were their Indiana range. Chicken Indiana and Paneer Indiana, basically paneer given an Indian twist. Due to our limited appetite and taking liberty of our invited status, we ordered half and half of each. half topped with paneer and other half with chicken.  Twist was not only in the toppings, its was also in the base sauce, which I was told made with mix of some kind of cheese and mint.

Salad : Guess the lowest part of the evening.
Combo of Chicken and Paneer Indiana Pizza
Fettuccine pasta in creamy pasta sauce with Buns and Garlic bread.

Pesto pasta that we ordered was not the usual one that I was used to. This one came with white sauce and pesto, on asking we were told that this was a customization that they had to do for this part of Delhi, as people just did not appreciate the normal pesto pasta. Oh Well! we Dilliwaalas do love our cream and cheese don’t we? That said the taste itself was quite nice and it came with two types of breads – Usual Garlic breads and mini buns, which were baked in-house only.

By this time we were about to give up, however the fighter inside us told us that we can eat more, and we need to eat more so that we can bring out all the food for you good folks.. ;-).  So to fight on next came Prawn in peri peri sauce and a Risotto with mushrooms. Risotto came in the last, and by that time were we quite full and hence were not able to do justice to it, so I had rather not talk about it here.

Risotto with mushrooms

The prawns were de-shelled jumbo prawns, have not tasted much of Peri peri sauce so cannot comment on it, however they came with a very nice side of Mashed potatoes and I loved the fact that chef had added peas to them. Not sure if its a usual practice or the idea comes from another desi mind.

Peri Peri Prawns
Mashed potatoes and vegetables with the prawns.

Now came the moment of reckoning – time for DESSERTS! We decided to bypass all usual Chocolate truffles and fudges and ordered Banoffee Pie along with the Red Velvet cake. The pie was nothing much to talk about, however the Red Velvet cake just blew our minds. It was like a perfect layer to seal of a gluttonous meal, the layer after which you feel that you have reached it. The orgasmic state if I may say so. Its was velvety smooth and the frosting took the icing of the cake, though on the sweeter side, they attributed it to one of the three cheeses used in making the frosting and if they had to make it less sweeter, it would loose its charm. And I see no reason why I would want that to happen.

Red Velvet Cake – The Star of the evening.

Banoffee Pie

To conclude it, its a new place with its own set of teething problems, the owner did mention about the staff issues as East Delhi is a difficult place to get good staff. However they seem to be doing very decent food, would not compare it to the best in Delhi, however it does offer an excellent option in the area it is located. Brilliant variety though the prices are on the higher side.

Address :
El Posto, 36-37, Aditya Mega Mall, Karkardooma, Delhi

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Rajdhani’s Rasovara – A fine dine Thali place – by Mohaneesh Thapar

”Sir, Rasovara in Rajasthani is Royal Kitchen” replied the manager Palash upon being asked by me the meaning of the restaurant’s name. Saturday noon along with my friend, was invited to Rajdhani’s Rasovara restaurant. Located in the Landmark Mall of central Mumbai (Palladium, Lower Parel) the restaurant is a step above Rajdhani which is already quite famous in the nation for their pure veg Thali. 

The interiors of Rajdhani’s Rasovara
First and foremost, a lady welcomed us at the entrance with a traditional Indian thali of flowers and tika. Then, as we moved towards the seating, two-three table-managers escorted us to our desired place. After we got all seated and comfortable, one table-manager asked me what I’d like to have. As per the given info, was here to review their traditional thali & their special Upvaas thali. So, sans spending much time, the manager started giving hand signs to his staff & quickly came in the brass plates, bowls & spoons. My friend had the traditional Rasovara Thali and I had the Upvaas Thali, but we didn’t really follow the rules and had whatever we wanted to try. The hand-signs continued & a welcome drink Khas-Khas Sharbat arrived, after which we had starters.The Khas-Khas Sharbat was very refreshing and for starters Gulabi Dhokla, Kashmiri Dahi Bhalle, Moong Dal Kachori, Cutlet, Sev Roll with mithi chutney and tikhi chutney that too on a special-sort-of-oval plate with a leaf on it (again, that’s not how you get your starters at Rajdhani) was served. On my side, Upvaas Thali had Sabudana Vada & Singadeka Pakoda with white coconut chutney. Based on both of our liking, Moong Dal Kachori & Gulabi Dhokla were the best out of all the five starters. Kachori was crisp sorta flaky had a thin crust with a salty-sweet moong dal stuffing inside and Gulabi Dhokla was very soft and moist, divine. Sadly, the cutlet was rubbery & Sev Roll’s crust was quite thick leaving less-to-no-space for the filling. Kashmiri Dahi Bhalle were also a let down as the Bhalle were quite hard. On my side, Sabudana Vada & Singade ka Pakoda both be slightly crispy and quite soft – very good. 
Traditional Rasovara Thali
Moving on to the main course, Upvaas Thali had Rajgire ka thepla, Sabudana Khichdi, Rajgire ki kadhi, Rajgire ki puri, Paneer Tomato, Alu Sukha Bhaji, Sabudana Upwas Papad, Fruit Salad, Soma Rice & Tomato Char. Apart from Sabudana Khichdi, Sabudana Upwas Papad & Rajgire Thepla rest of the dishes were quite ok-ok. On my friends side, the fare extended from Dal Baati Churma to Gatte Ki Sabzi with Jowar Roti to Patra Sabzi, Aloo Sabzi, Paneer Sabzi and Mix Sabzi. Not to forget, khichdi, mithi kadhi, namkeen kadhi, teekhi daal, capsicum-corn salad, Mirchi cha thecha, Papad, Chura masala Papad and the regular roti (yes, I know Puri is missing). Besides the Rajasthani dishes, we also liked Paneer ki sabzi, aloo ki sabzi and Patra ki sabzi. My friend also liked the mithi kadhi,but I didn’t as it was too sweet for my taste. In the sweets, Shrikhand, Puran Poli and Basundi dominated the sweets line-up, accompanied with Malpua-Rabri, Lassi (served in a shot glass kind of glass) and a special type of halwa named Akhrod (walnut) Halwa. Akhrod Halwa, I was trying for the first time & it was quite delicious, infact it sorta neutralized my tasting senses which were under a heavy attack of all the sweet we had – wise move to try the halwa after having all the sweet dishes. To give an opinion about the sweet dishes, each and every sweet dish impressed us. Would say, the sweet dishes are the forte of Rasovara. Finally, Paan with mouth refreshner came in and with that we came to an end of a marathon meal which had it’s influence from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra predominantly. The ratings are as follows : 
Upvas Special Thali
Ambiance – 4/5. Restaurants like Rasovara do have a very good ambiance. So, no probs with it. 
Service – 4/5. Again, restaurants with Thali being the specialty, have a very efficient staff. So, no complains in this department as well. 
Food – I’ll divide this section into two parts A) Upvaas Thali and B) Traditional Rasovara Thali 
A) Upvaas Thali – Despite the variety offered in this Thali, the food (apart from the sweet dishes and some dishes mentioned in the review above) was quite un-involving. Maybe they need to up the amount of salt & zeera in their dishes. 
3/5 
B) Traditional Rasovara Thali – Most of the dishes in this section don’t disappoint you (apart from a few starters). The variety and the taste go hand in hand most of the time. Overall a very good experience – 4/5 

Text & Pictures by 
Mohaneesh Thapar

Chidambaram’s New Madras Hotel – The Old Guard of Lodhi Colony

Lodhi Colony is changing. Or alteast its markets are. The sleepy colony made in British Raj to house central government employees and staff members is fast becoming home to some of the ‘finer’ restaurants in the business today. From Chez Nini, Kunafa, Elma’s etc in Meher Chand Market to Guppy by Ai, Tres, and Ploof Deli in its main markets – its now home to some of the most suave & chic food joints in town.
But then there are people like me who would visit something as fashionable as Tres Bar & Kitchen, order first course of small plates, but then feel suffocated with all the prim and proper things and manners. Waiters talking in an accent just does not leave much scope for me to stay there. So what does a common man like me do? Head straight to Chidambaram’s in Khanna Market of the same colony.
Now this is as South Indian as they come, not your typical Dosa-idli-vada joint. Though you get that too, plus some Chinese and Italian however I would rather stay away from those things.
I have not tried a lot of things there, plus I am not really an expert in South Indian food, however I still know that what I eat at Chidambaram’s is quite satiating for my soul
Rasam (Complementary)

 

Papad
My absolute favorite has to be Masala Idli – Simple ubiquitous Idli coated with a paste that is made our ghee and gunpowder. Now this is one combo for which I can shoot someone for, as long as I have enough gunpodwer. Ok! bad joke, but I hope you got my sentiments. They also serve a combo of Idlis, which has one each of Vegetable waali Idli, Fried Idli and Masala Idli. You try it and take your pick.
The Idli Combo

 

Masala idli

 

Fresh vegetable idlis ready to be served.

Another thing that I love about this place is their Rasam and Papad. Not sure about the padad however Rasam is complementary and is quite delicious as well, though cannot say how authentic. Have also tried Pongal which I guess is a very popular Tamil dish for breakfast down south is something like khichdi. Again cannot comment on authenticity, however loved the different type of khichdi and would be trying it again for sure. Besides Kesari Bhaat, which is like our Suji ka Halwa’s South Indian cousin and there is no reason for me or you not to like it, have also tried Tarmarind rice or Puliyogare as they are originally named.

Kesari Bhaat
Pongal
Puliyogare

When it comes coffees I am a big fan of Filter Coffee, after that comes your coffee shop coffee and then Instant coffee at the last. And when it comes to Filter Kaapi, the one they serve at Chidambaram’s, does a fabulous job for me. One of the best that you can get in Delhi/NCR atleast.

Kaapi, Filter Kaapi

They have quite an elaborate menu and I am sure I am gonna try more of it with time, however till then their Masala Idli and Filter Coffee is what I can absolutely recommend. Dilliwaala’s would love these two things for sure.

Coming back to Lodhi Colony in general – MI Meats is another desi joint that I appreciated in Meher Chand Market, however my last visit left me disappointed and its a pure non-veg. joint anyhow.
While you are in the area or at India Habitat Center and are in not a mood for All American Diner or other Angrezi options mentioned in this post then Chidamram’s is the best option you have for desi food. Besides that if you are a food lover then make sure you visit this South Indian Dhaba once for sure, you will not regret it.

Sita Ram Dewan Chand – The Dark Knight of Chhole Bhature

We all know how much we Dilliwaalas love and appreciate our Chhole Bhature. There are good bhature, there are better bhature and then there is God level. And being the country we are, we have so many gods that life is quite good, atleast when it comes to Chhole Bhature.
I guess couple of years back I wrote a post about Chacha in Kamla Nagar and at that time I put him along with Nagpal and Sita Ram in the top most segment, naming them the holy trinity of Delhi Bhature scene. Well to be honest things have not changed much, still I have discovered few new things in both Chhole Bhature and spirituality in general. However more on that later, this post is about Sita Ram Dewan Chand from Chuna Mandi in Paharganj.
The way Chhole are served, topped with the Chutney
Bhature – You can see the signs of being heated on a Tawa.
There is not much that I can say about SRDC that has not been said before, there are people who love it, however there are people who do not really appreciate his style of serving the bhaturas. He does not fry them on the spot, however makes a bunch of them and heats them on a tawa before serving. Lot of people feel that its not the way bhaturas should be served, however its just a different style of doing it and I have seen that happen at several places in Delhi, Punjab and North India in general. The Bhatura that is sevred by them is very light & fluffy. Bits of  paneer and masala stuffing in them adds to the overall taste. 
Bhaturas are kept like this and heated before they are served. 
I happened to visit them once again yesterday and was happy to see them being consistent on the taste and quality. The quality of the condiments served with them was also top notch. And as any foodie worth his salt will tell you, that Chutney serves as a very important benchmark for any eating joint as it is the easiest thing to cut corners in. However the chutney of SRDC was one of the most awesome ones you will ever taste. Its rich, its flavorful, its tangy.
Aamla or Gooseberry ka Achar
Masale waali mirchi.. cannot really call it a pickle. 😛
Unlimited supply, right on your table..
Also comes besides your regular Chhole and Bhature are Amla ka achar, mooli/pyaz ‘salad’ and masala green chillies (for lack of better phrase.. :P). The best part – You have unlimited supply of all those things on your table itself.
All said and done – you do not go there expecting any service.. but just no-nonsense good food and that is what they are good at. Priced at Rs.40 for a plate, they seldom get better than that.
PS : Can The Dark Knight of Chhole Bhature be complete without The Joker ?? 😛

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Raaga The Coffee Lounge – A whiff of hope

Despite being the campus area, have always felt that North Delhi lacks good hangout joints – coffee shops, bars, Hookah joints where you can just relax and spend some quality time with your friends. Thankfully Mocha opened up and brought some welcome relief to the area, however it still seems to be the only place and anyone in that part of Delhi, lands up at Mocha Civil Lines. 
Raaga seems to bring in welcome relief, located at a quieter corner of bustling Bungalow road, it is a place that has lot of potential. Have visited them couple of times, and till now have not got much of a reason to complain. In-fact I am quite positive that I am gonna go back there for more often. 
Cafe Latte
What is the most important thing in a Coffee Shop? Coffee! And they seem to be doing well on that front. Had tried their Latte (Rs.85) couple of times, and though I am not a connoisseur, however I still liked the brew. My friends who understand coffee much better than me, liked their Cappuccino (Rs.79) and a cold coffee they make from their own roast Raaga Frappe. So yeah, that is a front they seemed to be sorted at.
For me, the second most important thing at a coffee shop is ambiance, and these guys have a very decent and lively setup. I personally am a fan on outdoor seating and as of now they seem to be have decent space to hangout outside. And if my conversation with the very young owner is any indication, they plan to setup their outside seating area in a much better way, hopefully we would be see something in next couple of weeks. 
Now coming to the third thing, the food. It is the most important factor in my life, however coffee shop is one of the places where I do not go to eat as I do not expect anything edible from these guys (read ‘Chains’). Most of the times the food you get is like take out of the freezer and microwaved, which is not the kind of food I really appreciate. That said I happened to try 2-3 things at Raaga and till now, they seem to be fairly impressive. Things that we sampled :
  • Vegetable Lasagna : For Rs.160 bucks, it is one of the better lasagnas available around. Fresh vegetables, lot of cheese and good portion size. No reason to complain here. 
  • Mediterranean Pizza : The cheese, the toppings  were perfect, however the base seemed slightly thick. Again at Rs.150-200 did not leave much reason for us to complain, we finished it, we enjoyed it.
  • Vegetable Burger : This was for Rs.59 bucks and at the price there is not much scope for complaining. However the patty was a bit oily for my taste and reminded me of Gupta Ji’s fried burgers that you get all around the town. Once again I finished it, and if I did that, I really liked it.
Mediterranean Pizza 
Veg. Burger
    Veg Lasagna

    The inside scoop in lasagna.. 😉
The guy serving us was well spoken, experienced and warm. However we were surprised that they did not have Tabasco and Mustard sauces available. Plus with the burger we were served Tomato Ketchup of Del Monte (sachet) but with the pizza it was continental sauce of a brand I did not recognize. I wonder if it was a deliberate combination or just a random oversight.

Its too soon to say anything, they have been out there for couple of months only. Not a place I would specially go to, still the coffee shop I would hangout when I am in that part of town. Plus the rents in that area are a major killer, not sure how they plan to pull in the business and for how long they would be able to sustain such high costs, however I hope they are able to pull it off, because if they do, they would be getting lot of blessings from denizens of North Delhi and their friends. 
PS : Its a pure vegetarian place.

Raaga The Coffee Lounge

38, Bungalow Rd, Kamla Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi, India 110007

011 4568 6688
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Shunty Chicken Corner – Must try in Panipat

Being someone who loves mountains, I find myself riding or driving on National Highway 1 quite often. And being someone who has spent so much time of highways, Murthals and Havelis just do not cut it for me anymore. To know my stand on Murthal read this : 

Beyond Murthal – For Paranthas and more 

Last week was another such occasion when I started from Delhi at 6-7 pm and by the dinner time was expecting to reach Panipat. No surprises there, reached Panipat at around 9 pm, and thought it was a risk worth taking to venture into the city and not just by pass it by driving over the flyover. Had called a friend who lives in Panipat, however he was away for some training in Mysore, still very graciously he recommended couple of Dhabas where we can eat. Unfortunately we were not able to locate any of them, when suddenly I saw this cart on a corner and was immediately intrigued by what I saw.

A look at the cart

Its hard for me to explain what attracted my attention, however he recommended Butter Chicken and looking at others eating, I knew that quarter portion would be more than enough for 2 of us.  We waited for a good 30 minutes before he served us, the reason being that he takes his own sweet time in cooking and preparing stuff. Normally he used Nutralite, however on request you can get your food made in Amul Butter too.

Our meal
Closer look
Butter Chicken – the way it came.

In breads the simple tandoori roti looked divine and on eating, tasted divine too. Simple, basic, Tandoori roti, made of proper flour and not white maida type flour. We ordered paranthas too and he asked whether we wanted Laccha Parantha or Triangle Parantha, intrigued once again we ordered the triangle parantha and it turned out to be a super gluttonous treat. 

Triangle Parantha

The butter chicken itself was very well cooked, huge in portion and SUPER Yummy. It seems that prices have hit Panipat too and instead of onions were serve served cucumbers with our chicken, however the chutney with it was brilliant. Can just share that I am drooling right now?? 😛

Now since its a cart, there is no address and unfortunately there was no phone number too, however when you are going from Delhi, then you need to go under the Panipat flyowver and its somewhere on your left once you cross the Sanjay Chowk. By 9:30 pm he seemed to be running out of stuff, so I would assume its not really a late night thing.

Kheera and Chutney

All in all second impressive thing that we had in Panipat, first was Chhole Puri Subi that we had at Halwai Atta. Seems like the city has lot more to offer than we assumed or imagined.. 🙂

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