Monday, September 30, 2013

Do Nuts

Even when you work in advertising and are aware of the power great pictures and witty lines can exert on minds, every once in a while you succumb to the same.

This Saturday afternoon the intention was to sit at a familiar Café Coffee Day and get some work done and with this aim in mind we landed up at the Green Park Market where there are two such outlets. As luck would have it the parking space we found was bang opposite a newly opened Dunkins Donut outlet.

The façade beckoned and immediate changes to the plan were made and we trooped into Dunkins with the aim of biting into some amazing doughnuts. A nice warm, lively space greeted us and the staff too took out time to smile at us which was a good beginning. 

We sat down and opened respective laptops and then looked around for something to munch on. May I say that having seen the Mad Over Donuts counter, the one at Dunkins didn’t impress one much. Most seemed replicas of the MOD ones I settled for a cinnamon donut and a hot chocolate while the others went for ice teas. 

This brings us to the point that M.O.D managed to launch at a very crucial time, taking the first movers advantage – most people I know associate Doughnuts with MOD and hence even Dunkins feel like a replica – where possibly it was the inspiration. 

The doughnut was nice though it was initially served cold and had to be sent back for heating, A query that ideally the staff should have asked at the time of ordering itself. The hot chocolate was very insipid and didn’t make one feel happy at all.

With three open laptops we were soon in need of a power socket and thankfully found one close to our table, a quick look around however showed that we had been lucky as it seemed to be the only one. A poster mentioned free wi-fi and when we asked for the same encountered quite some confusion as the staff didn’t seem to have clarity on how it could be activated. Finally they managed to come back with a scratch card and asked us to use the code on it for free wi-fi access with the rider that its only for ten minutes usage. After spending another ten minutes in trying to figure it out we were finally told that the wi-fi connection isn’t functional. 

We still had some work to finish so decided to have a working lunch at Dunkins itself. This thought was of course guided by the amazing food images constantly being beamed at us from a television screen and like I said even advertising execs succumb to advertising, such is its power.

We  ordered hash browns, a classic chicken burger, pepper chicken burger and a cream cheese bagel – sadly except for the bagel none of the burgers really turned out to be anything that one could say was a ‘must have’.
What really took away from the burgers was the quality of the bread which I felt was very dry, almost brittle at the edges giving the burgers a very dry feel. The hash browns were okay, one has had better ones.

Try it out however don’t have your hopes set too high and if I were you I would stay with the doughnuts and not experiment too much. The staff was helpful enough though they could have done with a bit more training.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Snack - Shack

So, you have a late lunch on Saturday and assume that no one would be in the mood for a snack in the evening and are sure that tea and biscuits would suffice.

However come 6 PM you yourself are craving a bit to munch on, after all whats a weekend without snacks?

Of course conflicting thoughts of a full lunch, extra calories are also hovering around, making it a complicated decision making challenge.

So here's what I did:
  • Steamed some sprouted lentils I had in the fridge for about 10 minutes in the microwave. 
  • Put the same in a bowl along with chopped onions, tomatoes and a few green chillies.
  • Squeezed a bit of lemon, added rock salt and Chat masala along with a dash of Tabasco sauce and Imli chutney
  • Added a couple of crushed papri's to the mix and gave the whole thing a good toss.

Served it with a papri and a drop of imli chutney on top.
Tasted yummy, was nutritious and helped the guilt pangs about healthy food as well.

A win win for sure :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Trip to Hauz Khas Village - the non village

I love planning...not the immaculate thought through to the last detail, well in advance kind of planning. Rather the last minute, 'let's do something' and it should be fun kind of planning which entails frantic wracking of one's brains for options and spur of the moment innovations.

Yesterday was one such day...I had a long boring meeting from 9 AM sharp and it lasted till about 12:30 in the noon. As you can imagine my brains were fried by the time I walked out.Once out the first thing I saw was a message from a friend who said 'I am so bored, I feel like running away' initially I said 'lets do it together'. Later I thought, 'what the heck, its a Friday - we deserve a break.'

So messages went scurrying back and forth and a plan was formed.

The idea was to meet up at Hauz Khas village - 'pregame' as the youngsters call it, at a shots bar and then eventually go to Golconda Bowl for dinner.

Hauz Khas Village - once used to be a sleepy little village in the midst of posh South Delhi almost hidden from sight as it were. In the late nineties when I had first visited the village it used to be home to many a struggling designer and artist and had dusty lanes and by-lanes where hookah-smoking men and cows both lounged in peace.

Not any more, Hauz Khas Village is now the hub for youngsters who arrive in hordes as the sun goes down to party away at its many bars & pubs. There seem to be more commercial joints at the village than homes. Curios, designer ware, apparels and restaurants bring in many a tourist as well.

The partner and his art partner were the first to arrive,having a bit of time in hand decided to take a stroll at the nearby lake and monument. The setting sun and gentle breeze making it a peaceful walk.

By 7 PM all five of us met up at He Said, She Said - a bar which promotes itself as a Shots Bar.Like most places in the village the bar was at various levels and was interestingly done up. We walked up to the first floor and made ourselves comfortable. Waited for the waiter to hand us the menus...only to find that most things we wanted were not available, also while a board outside had happily announced Happy Hours till 10 PM - most items on the menu were outside its purview as well.

Not to let this affect us...we ordered our preferred poisons and got down to the serious business of letting down our hair.

The cocktails took close to forever to arrive, the food appeared faster. I had been warned about slow service but the erratic behavior of the waiters was surprising.

The honey chilli potatoes and quirkily named sharaabi seekh were nothing to write home about - except perhaps that the potatoes were doused in tomato sauce and seekh were dehydrated.

Inspite of the sad performance so far we couldnt go away from a shots bar without trying their shots - so after much thought we each chose one - only for the waiter to come and tell us that none of those were available and he pointed to another section of the menu and said only these were available.

We bravely yet again went about choosing and eventually five shot glasses with different colored liquids arrived at our table. Sorry to report none of them was anything to write about though one or two were not so bad as sherbets.  My two year old would have laughed at the amount of alcohol in the shots.

We walked out determined to not let this less than satisfactory experience mar our evening. By now the evening crowds had started arriving and scores of young people on ten inch heels walked past in search of their favorite water hole.

Golconda Bowl our next destination, turned out to be at the end of a serpentine gully past many a restaurant and shop which allowed for a quick purchase as well. A friend picked up an interesting glass topped table and after arranging with the shop keeper to have it delivered, we were finally on our way to try out the famed Nizami cuisine. 

The pretty lamp at the entrance

The entrance belied the space inside and I was impressed with the hanging lamps and the overall decor and ambience of the place, which while it had touches of the Nizami style didn't overdo it and allowed for tables to be placed at a certain distance from each other giving guests a sense of privacy.

We asked for a jumbo snacks platter which had a sampler of the famed pathar ke kebab, chicken 65, seekhs and tikkas. While the tikkas and seekhs were done well, the unanimous choice for everyone was the pathar ke kebab, tender, subtly spiced and with no hint of extra grease - they tasted so right that had we not got plans to gorge on biryiani we would have probably only had pathar ke kebab and come away happy.
On a whim we also ordered a subz shikhampuri kebab which turned out to be a crisp tikki with a nice texture. 

Our order for the main course had dum ka murg - a boneless chicken dish in a nice tomato and cream gravy which was topped with crispy onion flakes went really well with the tandoori rotis we had ordered. Next came the nalli nihari and the kaache ghosht ki biryiani topped with half a boiled egg, which immediately brought a smile to the face of our Kolkata friend since no biryiani in Kolkata is ever complete without a boiled egg and a big potato piece.

The Nihari was made a little different from our usual Karim's and everyone felt Karim's does it better. One of course has to understand that not all dishes with the same name are made the same way across the country though the basic ingredients may remain the same or similar.

The biryiani was amazing....just right in its balance of flavors and aroma. Neither bland nor over spiced as many a fake hyderabadi biryani served in Delhi tends to be. The kaache ghosht ki biryiani gets its name from the fact that unlike other biryianis this one cooks the meat and rice at one go in dum. How they manage to get both the rice and mutton just right is a trick I would love to learn.

We were so busy eating that I forgot to click pictures. The image you see here is taken from the Golconda Bowl web page.
The biryiani came accompanied by another legendary dish from Hyderabad the Mirch ka salan and a khati dahi ki chatni. The salan was nice while the chatni seemed a very diluted version of a raita. Nice with the biryiani

We finished every morsel and had a literally finger licking experience doing so.

Would highly recommend the Golconda Bowl to all those who love an authentic meal.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Foodie trials and trails in Dwarka

We live in a place called Dwarka. Now while Dwarka is supposedly Delhi (our pin code is 110077) however it’s always treated as a separate entity. A big zone with 20 plus sectors Dwarka is a sub city  – the distance from the celebrated areas of Central and South Delhi adding to its isolation.

While this has its advantages – one doesn’t have to fight with neighbors for parking space, there are ample parks and play grounds for children and security within the housing complexes is good. The one disadvantage is that of being at a loss when planning an evening out. There are no malls or cineplexes in Dwarka and the eateries too mostly leave one a little less than happy.

This past weekend we happened to try out two such Dwarka outlets and here is what I found:

Drool Kitchen was recommended by a friend as a quick meeting place – located in the Metro Station complex of Sector 10 it seemed like a good setting. Ample parking space, a restaurant with a separate party zone where a Birthday party was going on when we visited, the good part was that the party revelries didn’t disturb those sitting in the restaurant.

Not so nice Chilli Chicken
Since we were there early in the evening and the intention was to have a quick chit chat we didn’t order any main course and went with two starters Mughlai and Chinese. This is something we frequently do as a check to see which cuisine the outlet is more comfortable serving and which is an add-on.
The on the house papad and aam chutney they offered was a nice touch to keep us busy with something to nibble on while our order got prepared. We had also ordered some drinks which took a while to come as the bartender was busy, however the staff was courteous enough to come and inform us about the delay.

The presentation of the food was nice and while the chilli chicken was okay I found the Murg Malai tikka really good succulent, decent sized pieces and served not just with the mandatory mint chutney but with an interesting mustard sauce as well. 

The very nice Murg Malai Tikka

Deez Biryiani is a name I have a lot of fond memories of and blindly suggest as the place to get your Handi biryiani delivered from if you are in Delhi NCR. This past Sunday some friends dropped in and were in the mood to go out for dinner. The main motive being some nice mutton preparation. At one point we thought of visiting the Karim’s in Gurgaon but dropped the idea and decided to order in from Deez Biryiani, at Sector 5 Dwarka. 

Since I had made a veg fried rice already we decided to order two different mutton dishes a Ghosht Korma Peshawari and a Pakistan Ghosht Masala.
We awaited the orders in high anticipation and the delivery was made within half an hour which brought a smile all round. The smiles however soon faded when we sat down to eat as the mutton was terrible – totally non chewable and we had to finally give all the pieces to the dog. The gravies too were hardly a caliber one would associate with Deez. 

We called up the outlet to inform them that our dinner was totally ruined only to be asked indifferently as to what we want them to do. We said we just wanted to inform upon which the call was disconnected without any apologies.

I don’t know if the standards of all the Deez outlets have tumbled or its only the Dwarka outlet which has such bad standards of both food and manners.