5 January 2011

Bikanervala

Bikanervala is whereI have dined at, the most number of times, in the past two years! This outlet is located at Chanakyapuri, right behind Yashwant Place, though there are many branches in New Delhi and some other parts of the world! It’s a comprehensive food destination, offering a variety of sweets, snacks, and whole meals [South and North Indian, Chinese and Continental]. It’s a two-level outlet, with the ground floor being dedicated to sweets, snacks, ice creams and drinks. The first floor has a seating area [which gets super-crowded during weekends] and also the kitchen serving their main course dishes.


The menu also includes special items in sync with the then current festive occasion. So, during Navratris they have a full-fledged Thali with items permitted to be eaten during the festival, and snacks are altered to not have onion and garlic in them. [See pictures]. The Karol Bagh outlet has a special section for Bakery products.
Navratra Thali
Due to multiple visits with family, we’ve tasted EVERYTHING on their menu. In Pizza, they offer Cheese, Garlic, Mushroom and Tomato-Onion. I luuuuurve the Garlic Piza!
The South Indian Platter has two idlis, a vada, a small dosa and uttapam, served along with sambhar, green and red chutney. There are some four options in soups, each mildly flavoured, yet make for great starters or as palate cleansers. There’s also the North Indian Platter and Chinese Platter which are sufficient for two people.
Chinese Platter



Kebabs along with Punjabi Platter

Macaroni Salad and Lachcha Tokri 

Punjabi Platter
Breads along with Punjabi Platter

For Dessert, the Kulfi-Falooda tastes luscious, as does their various flavours of ice-cream. We once had oodles of fun selecting our own scoops for the Banana Split, and slurping the last drops of ice-cream off their boat-shaped dish! To conclude, I simply can never get enough of Bikanervala stuff, despite having had all the stuff they have to offer! In conclusion, my favourite chaat is their Paani Puri and what I don’t like is the Veg. Burger, which is TOO filling and leaves me feeling uncomfortable by the time I finish it. What I like the BEST?! Well, their staff always serves with gloves on their hands. Though, this did not prevent from a really small strand of hair floating up in my Badam Milk once.

For pics of their MENU card please visit

Raj Bhog
Gulab Jamun

Mahendra Sweets









 True blue Delhiites have an insatiable desire for food. This desire serves as a source of income for numerous small and big players. One such medium-sized player is MAHENDRA SWEETS  
located at the Babu Market end of New Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar Market. It’s a small-sized, pucca outlet serving a range of snacks and sweetmeats. Sometime back, the owner expanded the outlet a bit to include a section for cakes and pastries, and another counter of “Italian Salad” was added. During winters, there’s a small setup stationed outside the shop selling warm “Kesar Milk”.









There is an unprecedented amount of crowd during festivals, and the owners put up an extension counter outside the shop to make it easier for buyers. On display are a number of dry and wet sweets. My favourite is the ‘Krishna Bhog’, a thin layer of cream sandwiched between two thick, orange-coloured round layers of chhena [rasgulla]. Having tried most of their sweetmeats, it can be safely concluded that their ‘halwai’ does his job earnestly and the preparations are not too sweet, or under-cooked.


The most popular item of their repertoire is the jalebi, prepared fresh and sold only in the evening. It’s so famous that on most days, there is a queue of buyers to collect their order being packed, hot, right out of the sugar syrup. The samosas are amongst the best I’ve had across this country. They are always crisp, never too spicy, stuffed with steamed and seasoned potatoes with green peas thrown in during winters.

The newly opened ‘Pasta and Salad’ counter doesn’t visually appeal to my taste buds, but I am sure it must be selling well, due to the very reason mentioned at the beginning of this piece!

4 January 2011

Bengali Market



Bengali Market is essentially a concentration of a few shops around a really small circle, located off Mandi House in New Delhi. It gets its name from a BENGALI SWEETS outlet located out there. The Market’s main draw is its food outlets. Apart from Bengali Sweet House, there is an outlet each of Nathu’s Sweets, Nathu’s Bakery and Costa Coffee.

The Bengali Sweet House and Nathu’s Sweet are both spread over a fairly large area with ample space to sit in and savor their offerings. Each has a standard range of sweetmeats, dry snacks, chaats, and other savoury dishes on their menu. Sadly, none of the staff members use gloves to serve. One visible difference was a roach seen running on the inside of the counter where some of the dry snacks were kept at Nathu’s Sweets. That was my last visit to that outlet.




The Nathu’s Pastry Shop more than 
makes up for the average performance of 
the other outlets. It’s a small establishment with an impressive range of cakes, pastries, tarts, rolls, a wide range of breads, etc. A visit to Bengali Market would be incomplete without indulging your sweet tooth at this outlet. Lastly, prices at none of these outlets make the eyebrow shoot up.
                                                        

PS: The kulfi-falooda served at Bengali Sweet House is among one of the best in New Delhi. do not miss it!

Aloo Tikki Trail

Despite not being much of a potato fan, the accidental discovery of the stuffed Aloo Tikkis at UPSC Chaat made me check out the same preparation at a few other outlets across the capital. Here are some comments from the preliminary round of tasting…

1] KHATTA MEETHA
This is a fairly popular joint located in Sarojini Nagar [SN] Market. The ‘Aloo Tikki Chaat’ is served along with chhole [link]. The tikkis are stuffed, but do not have anything striking about their taste. The Chhole, though, makes up for a great accompaniment.

2] MAHENDRA SWEETS
Another one of SN’s buzzing sweet-cum-savoury outlet. Here, the filling inside the tikki struck a balance between tasty and tangy, but the outer covering of boiled potato was quite bland. The Chhole served along with it also didn’t strike a chord with the taste buds.

3] BENGALI SWEETS
Located at the quaint and cozy Bengali Market near Mandi House, their Aloo Tikki Chaat completely swept me off my feet! Oh, where do I start! Well, the “aloo tikki” first… this was a very well-prepared snack. The small tikki packed a big punch by being stuffed with green peas [fried and seasoned] and dried musk melon seeds, making it a delicacy in itself! The ‘chhole’ served along with it was another mind-blowing preparation. It struck a perfect balance between well-cooked steamed gram and spices, without having oil floating around it. If this is what they serve along with their “Chhole Bhature” too, then I’ll surely be licking my fingers at the end of it!


The trail continues

UPSC Chaat

The UPSC Lane on Shahjahan Road is New Delhi’s very own miniature KHAU GULLY! It’s most famous outlet is the Shree Prabhu Chaat Bhandaar, better known as ‘UPSC Chaat. Long ago, I was mightily stunned when my dear friend Marina mentioned this place to me despite never having been to the capital until then. She still hasn’t had an opportunity to taste their chaat, though I have done my bit of sampling and gorging! The Chaat Bhandaar has their oil simmering throughout the day but it’s only in the evening that the lane starts buzzing, with other outlets dishing out chowmein, bread pakoras, samosa-kachori, and a juice-walla to complete the course!

The Chaat Bhandaar follows a neat system of having you purchase a token before picking your order, to ensure the notes don’t get messy! The Aloo Tikki is stuffed with mashed peas and coriander leaves, garnished with grated raddish, making it a fine winter snack to relish. Sadly, the outlet couldn’t impress us with their consistency, as during my third visit the tikkis turned out to be uber-spicy and I unearthed 4-5 dices of green chilly making it difficult to hold back the tears. Ignoring that ONE unhappy incident, their other preparations do a good job of leaving the tongue tangy and happy!

Bharwa Gol Gappa

The “Bharva Gol Gappa” is a plate of small puris stuffed generously with soaked bhallas [vadas] and topped with curd, red and green chutney, and their “chaat masala”. It is the capital’s version of west India’s “Dahi Puri”. The “Papri Chaat” is a quick yet fine preparation of papris [7-8] sprinkled with mashed potato and copious amounts of curd with seasoning to top it off. And finally, a comment on Amitji’s favourite street snack… the “Aloo Fry”. This is essentially small pieces of boiled potato seared in oil and garnished with green chutney and chaat masala. When not bordering on unbearably spicy, this is a decent preparation too.

That one experience of tears notwithstanding, I’ll definitely go back again, especially for their Bharwa gol-gappas!

3 January 2011

Veg. Gulati

-->
Veg. GULATI is an upscale restaurant located in the food square on Pandara Road in New Delhi. This blogger has been infrequently dining here for almost 10 years now. Sadly, the quality of food is not as exciting as before. Somewhere, the spark has gone amiss despite the prices being raised significantly keeping up with inflation. This review is based on the three visits made in a span of one year.

The d├ęcor is a dimly lit one with mirrors on one side to provide an illusion of space and slight brightness. It’s designed in a rectangular manner and there are barely 8-10 tables, which leads to an increase of waiting time during weekends. Childhood memories of this place are unmistakably attached to an impressive Roomali Roti paired with some really well-prepared dishes. These can’t be refreshed anymore as the restaurant has stopped offering Roomali Roti which it originally used to source from GULATI next door, which serves both veg. and non-vegetarian.

Bread Basket
A standard side dish ordered by my family is the Bread Basket comprising of a Butter Nan, Tandoori Roti, Lachcha Parantha, Missi Roti and Pudina Parantha. All of these are sincerely prepared and complement the main dish well. Their main menu comprises of neatly divided sections between preparations of paneer [7-8 dishes], vegetable curry [similar number of preparations], two options in rice, 3 types of dal, Thali [2 variations] and sweets [for dessert].

Their vegetable curry preparations are near similar in taste, which is a pity considering the variety on offer. Though, in winter, there are some changes in the menu, and the METHI MALAI MATAR was an impressive dish with very well-balanced flavours. The Rajma and Dal Makhani are quite dull, or simply put, taste average. My Mum can prepare them with better gusto and deliver the right punches, too! Haldiram's Dal Makhani wins hands down! What has always been a personal favourite is their baby onions marinated in vinegar and green chutney, which complement the staid food brilliantly. I could simply savour the breads with these two offerings and return home happy! The dishes are all priced between Rs. 300/- to Rs. 500/-
Pickle, Green Chutney, Onions

Lal Rajma




Visits to Veg. Gulati have now become a circular and hence repetitive process of an unhappy realization. As time passes, I feel the desire to drop in for a meal. Once there, the food doesn’t blow my mind off and hence the disappointment over the excitement to be there. As my Mum says, ‘admit it, the food isn’t worth scampering to go back for. It’s not even value for money, beta!’ The restaurant has been awarded one of the best veg. restaurants in the capital by HT. It amazes me as to how they couldn’t have found an outlet to beat Veg.Gulati in this category. Maybe the judges were to lazy to taste around and just decided to settle in on pedigree. Not a good decision, though.

The only joyous part about visiting this locality is the KULFI counter right outside Gulati. This lovely joint has maintained its quality over the years, and the pricing of the dessert is just right. They have numerous flavour providing a twist to the traditional kulfi, served on stick or in a matka. It’s our favourite part of the visit! You must try the Pan Kulfi.

PS: Gulati was a unique dry fruit-laden dish of rice cooked in milk, prepared for the Nawab of Jehangirabad by his Khansama Khaleel. [a royal version of our standard N.Indian Kheer!:P!]

Added later: In 2013, I visited the outlet twice with friends. The long gap since our last visit made me enjoy the dishes quite a bit. Our orders included Gulati's speciality dish of Amritsari Chhole and Punjabi Kadhi. Both of these were well-cooked and were quite delicious being mildly, and not strikingly, flavoured with spices.

Gopala

Good things come in small sizes, and sometimes with limited access, too! Such is most certainly the case with a small bakery located in New Delhi’s Meher Chand Market. I am unsure if such a location for an eatery dishing out YUMMM pastries is an asset or a liability. For not many may have access to its delicacies. Word-of-mouth publicity may probably not supplement business as much as a swisher location or multiple outlets would. Leaving their business decisions aside, let’s focus on what they have to offer for our palate. GOPALA is an outlet serving snacks, bakery products and an in house dairy supplementing its sweets’ produce.

The vegetarian pastries on offer comprise of the usual chocolacious affair. But their flavour and gooey-ness are unparallel. My favourite is the Chocolate Roll pastry. If I may sheepishly admit, I have never been to their outlet and have always savoured this pastry at home, licking the excess chocolate off my fingers! Once, I had access to four of their pastries at a go. This leads to the realization that their technique to make all these pastries is the same, without any variation in layering. It has two layers of cake sandwiched between layers of chocolate. The topping differs owing to the name of the pastry.
So, Chocolate Flakes has brown choco-flakes sprinkled on it, and C.Truffle has a small plume of chocolate on one side. The most interesting of the entire lot is “Chocolate Supper” with an enticing design of round pastry, covered with tempered chocolate on the side and a red cherry sitting pretty on top!


Their sweets are not as impressive, though. The Milk Cake and Motichoor Laddoo are barely passable which is a pity considering they have their own dairy. The blogger’s brother happened to taste their Tiramisu and Black Forest pastry and pronounced that they are equally good. The pastries are all reasonably priced at Rs. 30/ Rs.40. The sweets, though, are priced on the higher side with their taste not doing justice to their rates. I'll always long for their Chocolate Roll pastry, for obvious reasons!:-P!