Monday, November 29, 2010

Photo Essay : Food at the IITF - Pragati Maidan

Last week, we visited the IITF at Pragati Maidan and the food and food products were definitely the most exciting items for us at the fair.

The food were rather hit and miss. I tried out a wonderful little sweet called Anarsaa from Bihar which was khoya with a rice flour coating seep fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds. This was our first encounter with this sweet and the play on textures and flavours was amazing. The kachoris at the Rajasthani Stall were excellent. The Cuttack Biryani at the Odisha stall was a disaster. Rice was cold and congealed and the curry they spooned on top was more oil than curry. The Chole Bhatura at the Uttaranchal stall was average. Here are pictures of some of the food that was on offer

The Anarsaa from Bihar

Kachoris from Rajasthan

Hyderabadi Biryani

Vegetarian Delights from Kerala

Udupi Cuisine

The Papdis and Puris of Uttar Pradesh

Biryani from Lucknow

Some Sweet from Uttaranchal made with rice flour and Chola Bhatura

An Odiya Sweet

Spicy Pickles on Sale

An Indian Food Roundup is incomplete without Chaat

Some of the Menus on offer

And here is the Crowd enjoying their food

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gunpowder, Delhi

3rd Floor
22 Hauz Khas Village


011 2653 5700
 Lunch 1200-1500 & Dinner 1930-2300
Monday Holiday
No Home Delivery

Gunpowder is a wonderful little Malyali (Kerala) Eatery located in the Hauz Khas Village with simple interiors but a magnificient view of the Hauz Khas Lake. The restaurant is not in the least bit pretentious, but serves up some of the best Kerala style food I have eaten outside Kerala, Dubai and my Malyali friends houses. Gunpowder also serves up cuisine from other parts of the coast, but the focus is mainly on Malyali food.

Its a bit difficult to locate and we ended up eating at Naivedyam or TLR Cafe before we finally found their number and got more precise instructions. They do have a couple of signages pointing the way, but the easiest way to arrive is to find the Yodakin Book Shop on your left, walk a few steps ahead. There will be a narrow gully on your right with a paanwallah sitting there. Take that right turn and keep walking straight until the dead end. Turn right and then gaze at the hard climb up the 4 flights of stairs. There's actually a print out at the base of the stairs that cautions (please call 011 2653 5700 to check if we have seating space before climbing)

The restaurant barely seats 25 and the food is excellent at very reasonable rates for Delhi so its almost always full.

The owner seems to be running the restaurant more for the pleasure of feeding people and the joy of cooking rather than as a business and this reflects in the quality and flavours. But it also means that they are very firm about timings and seating. So its best to call and reserve a table.

On our last visit, we started with the Pork Ribs(200Rs) a sweetish starter and the Buff Fry(250Rs) which was excellent with our drinks. A dry spicy dish flavoured with roasted slivers of coconut and curry leaves.
We were 7 of us for dinner all avid foodies and staunch non vegetarians and we used this opportunity to order a wide cross section of curries from the menu. A Buff Curry (260Rs), an Idukki Pork Curry (260Rs), a Coorgi Pandi Curry (260Rs) and a Toddy Shop meen - fish curry (300Rs). Each dish had a distinct flavour and each was wonderfully spiced - the trademark of Malyali cuisine.

The meats were all well cooked without being too tough or too dry. The presentation wasn't glamorous but the experience was like dishes coming out of a friends mothers kitchen, so you don't really mind.

The fish curry was tasty, but the fish itself was very bony and seemed more like the Bengali style river fish than the sea fish which is more popularly consumed in the Coastal states of South India.

To add some vegetables to our meal - mostly to satisfy the UPite and the Gujarati (relatively recent converts to non-vegetarianism) in our group, we also ordered the Avial (110Rs) -  a traditional Kerala dish of mixed vegetables with coconut. The Avials I have eaten so far have been slightly runny in texture. The dish served here was dry with such an exquisite balance of flavours and such crisp and firm texture to the vegetables, that it was the first dish to be wiped clean, even though the majority at the table were die hard non-vegetarians (from the North East of India and a Manglorean)
We had some Appams (50Rs), Steamed rice (65Rs) and Malabar Parottas (50Rs) to accompany the dishes. The parottas are absolutely scrumptious and one can make a meal of just 2 parottas and nothing else. They are that good. Flaky and tasty.

Back home, we buy appams and parotas for 3Rs, so the 50Rs is a bit of a jolt each time I look at their menu and the one at Swagath . But when you consider the difficulty of getting the right ingredients and a cook with the right technique in Delhi and the amount of labour it involves (which is why I rarely make them at home) - it is worth it.

We were so stuffed, that we did manage to pack a lot of the food as the quantities are quite generous. We had absolutely no space for even a bite of dessert. Although the pal payasam looked very tempting.

Throw in a couple of Lime Sodas (45Rs) and Beers (150 / 170Rs), tip, service and VAT taxes. But we had 7 stuffed foodies with food to spare and thetotal bill was just 3700Rs. A minor miracle in Delhi for clean, hygenic, healthy and tasty food.

This is another one of our favourite restaurants in this city and we will keep going back for more.

Ambience : 8 (for the outdoor balcony seating that overlooks the lake, decor is very basic)
Food  : 9
Service : 7

Friday, November 19, 2010

Indian Accent, Delhi

Indian Accent
The Manor
77, Friends Colony (West)
011 2692 5151

The Indian Accent Restaurant is located in the modern yet cosy The Manor Hotel. The smell of Marigolds and Rajnigandha waft through as you step into the hotel and tastefully arranged bunches of orange gendha lie along the path to the restaurant. The Restaurant has a bar cum waiting section leading into it. Given the limited seating at the restaurant, it is highly advisable to reserve a table before heading there.

When we visited on the 15th of November, they were still serving their summer menu. They assured us that the winter menu would be served shortly, once Chef Manish Mehrotra was back. (One of the signatures of this restaurant is using fresh seasonal and oranic ingredients in their dishes. Hence the menus change with the season)

While we were perusing the menu, we were served mini naans stuffed with blue cheese that melted in our mouths and tantalised our tastebuds.

Since there were no soups on the menu, we turned to the drinks menu. The Frosty Lavender was my favourite of what we ordered. An excellent mocktail, a combination of Lavender infused coconut water with crushed ice.
Honey Pepper Fizz - a rum based cocktail with honey water, pepper, pineapple chunks and basil was refreshing and fruity, with enough alcohol to infuse a warmth that chilly night.

While we waited for the appetisers we had ordered, we were offered dahi sev puris with an unusual stuffing which included wasabi peas, served in a smoking ladle.

They serve paani puri with  a twist - cous cous filling and 5 different waters: mint + jal jeera, tamarind + date, pomegranate + cinnamon, mango and yoghurt + garlic . My favourite of the lot was the pomegranate and cinnamon water.

For starters we ordered the Meetha Achaar Canadian spare ribs with sun dried mango and toasted kalonji seeds. The meat was not as well marinated as we expected. So while the marinade was tasty, the flavours hadn't penetrated through to the bone.

The vegetarian appetisers were much better. The ash roast sweet potato in herb yoghurt with radish carpaccio and crisp okra garnish (325Rs) had a melange of flavours like a dish of chaat, but they blended quite well together.

The crisp vegetable rings (onion, karela and others) with sesame seeds and Amaranth, was unanimously voted as the best appetiser on our table and was consumed the quickest.

For our main course, the vegetarian with us ordered the Tandoori broccoli that was served on a bed of corn kernels with a goji berry sauces. The dish was cheesy and lovely on a winter evening, it would be a bit heavy for the summer though.
 Both of us non vegetarians wanted the slow cooked pork Goan style served on a bed of red rice. The pork was really well done and very soft with just the right amount of fat. But the dish became monotonous after a while. It would have been nice to have some crunchy vegetables on the side. We ended up decimating our vegetarian friends tandoori brocolli in the process.
 The kaali dhal and fresh naans were excellent and could have been a meal in themselves. While most of the non vegetarian dishes had a portion of carbs on the plate, someone ordering a vegetarian main would need to order extra sides if they needed rice or bread with their meals.

The desserts were truly outstanding. The jaggery and coconut creme brulee was mildly flavoured and served with a melon mosaic that seemed too pretty to eat.
 The old monk rum balls were served with a 70% valrhona chocolate sauce and flambeed on the table.

But the winner of the evening was the tandooried pygmy pineapples with a desi daru reduction and vanilla ice cream.

The menu reads very well. But with some dishes like the pork, we felt the dishes did not live up to our expectations. While the desserts surpassed our expectations. And as anyone in the food industry knows, if you serve your diners an excellent dessert, they will be willing to forgive most of the tiny problems with the rest of the meal.

If you would like to taste a larger number of dishes, when you don't have too many people at your table, the Chefs Tasting Menu is a great option.
Non Vegetarian: Rs1975
Vegetarian: Rs1875
Add Rs1200 per person for 5 half glasses (75ml) of wine

Rough idea of Ala Carte prices pre-tax:
Mocktails 200Rs
Cocktails 350Rs
Vegetarian appetisers 325Rs
Non Vegetarian appetisers 600Rs+
Vegetarian mains 650Rs
Non Vegetarain Mains 800Rs+

Ambience : 9.5
Food  : 8
Service : 9


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