Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hyderabad

All right. This one is destination review for Hyderabad. Hyderabad is one of those cities, which I forayed into many years back. After completing engineering, just like the giant leap for mankind, after man stepped on the moon, in a very similar manner, it was my big step from north India to down south. When I went there for my MBA for the first time, I was a brash arrogant Delhi-ite. Arrogant I ventured in south India making fun that everything is written in circles and it’s all about Idli dosa’s. But as I settled in the city for two years, by the time I left the city, I was in head over heels in love with this city. There was a charm in the city which was subtle, relaxed and yet cultured. Hyderabad was the place where even a CEO can be seen walking down the street in simple chappal’s. High thinking and simple living. The beautiful harmony and mix of telugu and muslim population co-existing together. The amazing weather along with the exception of the months of summer. The long drawn accented Hyderabadi lingo and the amazing food.  From the walled city near Charminar, to the metropolitan areas of Begumpet, the elite Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills. A very economical city for living and eating. For foodies, it is a dream place to be.

Lets start with the various joints in Hyderabad.

The most famous and aspect of Hyderabad, which everyone knows is the Biryani.  Biryani is served in almost all the corners of the town. Haleem which is made during ramzaan. Chicken 65 the spicy starter unique to Hyderabad.

Biryani, Haleem & Curries


-      Paradise Biryani: Secunderabad- Famous for all tourists and great Biryani, this place is huge and the biryani is great.
-    Hyderabad House: A chain of restaurants with multiple locations. Studying at ICFAI, the closest for us was the one at Road number 3, near the Masjid.  One thing which is unbelievable is the appetite for rice for Telegu people. I recall seeing two people finishing of a jumbo plate, which for us would have been sufficient for three to four people.
-      Hyderabad Restaurant, Yusufguda: I remember driving down on bikes to this place for either Dine Ins or for take away before our big parties. If you are in Srinagar Colony near the ATM’s, there is this road perpendicular to the ATM’s. Drive thorough straight and you shall join the main road of Yusufguda. At a big intersection, on your left you shall see the Hyderabad Restaurant. Like any Hyderbadi joint, you have a shop for chai, paan, beedi right outside. As you enter the shop, there is a general area, more like the regular Hyderabadi cafes and then there is the AC section behind. Great food. For each of our parties, we used to order two jumbo packs, which used to be 3-4 kgs of Biryani each and about Rs. 180/-.
-          Bawarchi: has one of the best and Authentic Biryani’s.
-        Midnight Biryani @ Hotel Green Park: If you are looking for a bit of standard place with ambience and great food, Hotel Green Park was our destination. A buffet for about Rs 200/- at any time in the night.

Mughlai Fare:
Shahdab: In the old city, near Chaarminar, opposite to Medina Hotel. The mecca for authentic muslim food. The right setup, walled city, great food and Shadaab. They take you the firstfloor, where they make you sit in the iislamic way on baithaks on the floor, with low rise tables. The curries and haleems are great.
A few other eateries, where we used to visit as students for almost daily eating was Hotel Banjara Darbar and Hotel Bashar. Two joints at Punjagutta, right near the police station and opposite to Hyderbad Central. Late night eat outs, after parties etc. This has been the hub for us. There is probably nothing to boast other than great economical food for students and very spicy food.
Another one was Dhuandaar Dhabha As you move from Punjagutta to Nagarjuna Circle and further on Road Number 1. This had some real spicy curries and tandoori items. Last I read, it is now closed permanently.
At Tolichowki, there was a big restaurant complex, which we used to visit once in a while. From Banjara Hills it was a bit far, so we used to go for special occasions. There are a number of restaurants lined up and it is the mecca for Non Veg food. Siddiqui’s, one of the popular joints, which serves, roasted chicken, tikka’s, pathar ka gosht, and Biryani. Dirt Cheap food and amazing quality. Must visit. There was also four seasons here, which was descent, although Siddiqui’s Kebab Center was our favorite. They had also opened up  Arabian Nights near Yashoda Hospital on Raj Bhavan Road. Highly recommended.
Bade Mian Kebab@ Somajigauda: Its at this mall at the intersection of the road from Rajbhavan Road, Begumpet and Punjagutta.

Fish:
Well, in Hyderabad there are a few places for fish.
Fishland in Ameerpet is pretty good. Very Busy and a large menu of diverse variety of fish items.
Club 8 Hyderabad at Begumpet makes the best chilli and garlic prawns. Id die to go there again just to have their prawn starters.



Buffet:
Hyderabad is a city best known for its lunch buffets. 6 years back when I was there, and I recall, it was dirt cheap and great food. For as low as Rs 100/- and high as Rs 250/- you would find an awesome and lavish spread of food. This was all across the city.

The best ones I recall
Angeethi’s: OMG, this was one of the best North Indian food I found at Hyderabad. Serving, chicken, mutton Biryani, Fish fry and various other non veg items, this used to be a paradise for north indian food. I recall the buffet used to be Rs 135/- per head
Zafraan exotica: Road number 12 in Banjara Hills, this one had a roof top and a great buffet again, and the view of the city was great.
Zafraan, Somajigowda: Another one which also served seafood in the buffet. Again pretty good.
Ohri’s: Ohri is a brand famous in Hyderbad. They have multiple location. One was in Road Number 12, which had muti level dining. There is Ohri’s food court on the ground floor and open till late in the night with the buffet. We would often come over for coffees and ice creams as students. There was Chinese restaurant Far East, which was pretty good as well. On the top floor, I recall there was an African interior based restaurant called Serengeti which provided again a good view of the city.
Ohri’s Jeeva: A vegetarian buffet option on Raj Bhawan Road, next to Yashoda Hospital. Not really my favorite as it was vegetarian, but nonetheless a very popular option for veggies.
Kaboora @Begumpet. One of the first outings for our MBA batch and we wrecked havoc on their buffet. Very good food and memories.
Pizza Corner@ Road No.3, during Ramzaan used to have unlimited Pizza’s offer. For something like Rs 150/- approx. they have unlimited pizza slices for Mutton keema pizza.

Bakery
Well Well, What do I say? Sigh. Hyderabad has cafes all across the cities. The concept and culture of confectionary still exists and is very high in the city. Walk in for a quick grub. Patties, Puff, Pastries. Veg, Egg, Chicken, Mutton Puff’s.  The burgers are pretty cute and old style. I mean it reminds me of the home made burgers we used to have kids. They still make a chicken or mutton sabji and make a burger out of it. Dirt cheap cafes, great value for food.  A few of them I remember
  • -          Midtown Bakery at Punjagutta Circle
  • Mountain Bakery on Road number 3 near the Masjid
  • Big Byte @ Srinagar Colony
  • Karachi Bakery, famous for its fruit biscuits.
  • Almond House on Road number 3, Banjara Hills. Awesome Almond biscuits. The cheese and mushroom puff is highly recommended.

Roll Call: A small little eatery on Nagarjuna Circle which makes the most awesome Calcutta rolls in Hyderabad. It was right outside our ICFAI Hyderabad campus.

North Indian Fare
As North Indian’s, I did miss my hari chutney, sirke waale pyaaz and butter chicken. That led us to all the search for authentic north Indian joints.
-          
     Angeethi as I mentioned previously was one of the best joints for buffet.
-      Shahji Ka Dhabha @ Lakdi ka Pull: Just after you cross the pull, on your right there is a petrol pump, and then Shahji ka Dhabha. A small little eatery but great north indian non veg food. Must have. I remember days when it was raining, and we would end up here for the tandorri chicken and the butther chicken
-       Sher-E-Punjab: Another little dhabha on Punjagutta. Just as you take a left to go towards Ameerpet, this dhabha is on the right, great north Indian food. Last update is that it is closed now.
-    Needs Restaurant at Begumpet (street behind Lifestyle, beyond St.Francis)- the most awesome parantha’s and lassi. North Indian fare is good. A small eatery in a flat, with the personalized touch.
-          Tiwari Sweets: On the intersection of the road from punjagutta, khairtabad and the road towards Imax. This place has great samosa’s and sweets. Come to this place on a Sunday morning for their poori Subji and you will fal in love with it.
-           
Chaat:
The golgappa’s at the Jubilee Hills Check post is famous. The beauty about chaat in South india is that they call it chats and instead of the boiled potato, they give matar chaat in the golgapps with the water.
Gokul Chaat at Koti is another classic hangout place. The menu is simple. Pav Bhaji, Pani Puri, Samosa Ragda, Bhel Puri and Cold Dahi Samosa. All items less than Rs 50/- and really great chaat.

South Indian:
Chutneys: An amazing place which just serves dosa’s and variants of chutneys. The specialty is the number of chutneys served over here.  Owned by the Telegu film star Nagarjuna, this place has a long line to get in every evening and all the snazziest of cars being parked. Not too expensive, and great food. Located at Nagarjuna Circle

A variety of Andhra Mess and Tiffins adorn the streets of Hyderabad. Just walk in and for as less Rs 10/- you can have a Andhra meal. The Andhra specialities also include the variants of rice. Lemon/ Tomato Rice etc.

Location Based
A few places are just for their amazing  ambience.
Durgam Chevru: On the high tech city, there is a big lake, also referred to as the secret lake. When you come in from the high tech city side, there is the entrance to Durgam Chevru and small Andhra Pradesh Tourism  café which serves snacks. Chicken 65, French fries, Pakoda’s. The menu is limited, but the location is just great. On a day after it has rained, it is just perfect.
Our Place: On Road No 10, Banjara Hills, this  place has a garden based restaurant with great ambience.
Eat Street: overlooking the Hussain Sagar lake, this is a place for its location. A food court is there with some options. I can’t recall anything too awesome about the food, but worth the location.

Continental and International Cuisine
Fusion 9 & Deli 9: A very good place for international cuisine. Pasta’s Pizza’s, Mediterranean, Salami’s & Sausages. The sandwiches and soups are a must. They have a weekend bunch which is really awesome and very refreshing.
Little Italy: I recall Little Italy opening up initially in Banjara Hills, Road No 1. Great pasta’s and Ice Tea. I have heard this has now moved to Jubilee Hills.
Indi Joe A beautiful lunch buffet with continental spread based out at the city center mall.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Highway Dhabha’s of North India: Delhi - Punjab - Himanchal




All right, this one is about dhabha’s. Now for majority of my readers, I am sure you would know what a Dhabha is, if you are from India and more specifically from North India. Well, for those, who don’t, Dhabha are basically road side eateries. If you are driving around in India on the highways and are feeling hungry, Dhabha’s are small places in the middle of nowhere, where you can come in stop your car, relax, take a break and have food.

Dhabha’s have evolved and modernized in the last decade themselves. I recall as a kid when I would travel with my dad, Dhabha’s always had a stereotyped image which has still stuck to my mind. On the highway, there is a large area on the side which is evened out , where cars come in and park. There are chaar payees with fatta’s for siting and relaxing. Then there is a small shop or sort of a room/ building where the cooking is done. There would be a hand pump by one side for people to go and wash their face/ hands.  Behind the dhabha there would be large endless farms.  Dhabha’s would also have a few trucks standing by the side, and truckers sitting down and devouring the food.  Well so much for my image of a stereotyped image.  

Over the years in all my travel across north India and to some extent, perhaps its only Punjab which goes well with the dhabha’s. If you are travelling down in UP, HP, Haryana, J&K or Rajasthan, they do have some road side eateries, but not the traditional dhabha’s. Dhabha’s for me has been a stereotyped Punjab thing. 

Over the years, dhabha’s have modernized, have AC’s, serve continental cuisines, have shopping complexes etc. In fact the Dhabha’s became such popular concepts that even in the cities, there are restaurants which have opened, which try to recreate the ambience and concept of Dhabha.

Anyways, lets start with my write up of various eating out options as I travel from Delhi towards Ambala and Punjab. Usually we commence driving from Gurgaon at morning 6 or 7. After crossing Delhi as we drive on towards Panipat.

Haveli- Panipat, Karnal, Jallandhar
The first place for stopping is the Haveli.  Haveli is a chain of restaurants, which have opened up at the Panipat, Karnal and Jallandhar. These restaurants are more concept based, which celebrate the dhabha concept in a stereotyped manner. It also focusses on the typical Punjabi villages and culture.  If you are in a Haveli for the morning, try out their parantha’s, poori sabji’s and chai. For lunch, they have the full vegetarian punjabi fanfare. 



Dal Makhani, Zeera Aloo , paneer makhani etc. You can have the thali’s as well. To be honest, the food is descent, tasty, and the bigger reassurance is that it is hygienic and clean. A good stop for anyone on this highway. At the Karnal joint, they have two sections, one for the regular food and lunch and the other for fast food. The fast food serves a chicken and cheese sandwich which is yum. This is not really a dhabha but a good place for a stop. They also have rooms for staying overnight at Karnal and some shopping options as well.
 
 




 


Murthal Parantha’s
As you approach Murthal, you will see a series of restaurant on your left while coming from Delhi. These dhabhas are large and are famus for their parantha’s. The likes of Ahuja Dhabha, Pahalwan Dhabha, Gulshan Dhabha. All these have been there for many years now. As a kid I recall going there to Gulshan Dhabha with my dad, and perhaps that is the one which was the original one for me. Over the years a number of them have opened up and no one knows which one is the original one. What to have here. The Tandoori Parantha’s. In variants of aloo(potato), pyaaz(onion), gobhi(cualiflwower), mooli (raddish). Have the regular tawa parantha’s or the tandorri parantha’s with loads of white or amul butter. Lovely and perfect. A must stop.












Karnal- Zilmil/ Karna Lake
If you are in Karnal, the first option is the haveli which I have already mentioned. For many years before when haveli was not there, the other option was the Haryana Tourism restaurant at Karna lake. Still old school and reminds you of the era in the 1980’s-1990’s when state tourism run joints were famous. For me they still remind me of the 80’s era, as they are still preserved in the same way. They may not be too popular these days in comparison to McDonalds, and Haveli’s, but pretty good Id say. A bit more relaxing and a good place to sit down, have a view of the lake and have parantha’s in the morning.





The other one at Karnal is the ZilMil Dhabha’s. Right on the highway, and more of a run of the mil dhabha, but perhaps closer to the real dhabha’s. The food is pretty descent. On one occasion while returning from Amritsar, we stopped here and tried the kadi, dal and the chicken curry and trust me, it was just about ok. A bit crude and nothing for me to come back again. I’d rather go to Murthal or to Karna Lake complex to be honest.  My verdict is that its probably ok ok types.




Ambala: Puran Singh Da Dhabha & Deluxe Dhabha
As we drive further, the next city is Ambala. Well, at Ambala, there are two joints. Don’t take the flyover that goes over the city. Take the road below the flyover. Right opposite to the Ambala Cantt Railway station, there is Puran Singh Da Dhabha. Many years back as a kid in the 1980’s I remember visiting this joint with my dad when he was on his business tours. I recently visited a about 4 years back and somehow the shop with the white door and black filmed glass wasn’t around. On the contrary, there were a number of asli, real Puran Singh da Dhabha.  There have been a number of shops which have spruced up and claim to be the real Puran Singh. I called up a few friends and apparently one of them was the real deal. Checking on the internet, it seems the real one as per Rocky and Mayurs Highway on my plate book, the real one is the Puran Singh ka Mashoor Dhabha. The ambience is not really great and it is more like a small store in the middle of the city. The cicken curry and mutton curry are recommended. The hygiene is pretty bad and I would probably recommend doing a take away.

The next joint in the vicinity is the Deluxe Dhabha. Again, right opposite the railways station, you see a road going in perpendicular. On that road, barely 100mts ahead, the deluxe dhabha is also a good one. Serving the chicken curry and the Sandhu Dal which is quite famous over here again. Staff Rd, Ambala Cantt, Ambala Sadar, Haryana 133001, India

Ludhiana: Zamindara Dhabha
Now as we move ahead of Ambala, there is an intersections for different places.  One route is towards Chandigarh via Zirakpur and the other is towards Ludhiana onto Amritsar. Well if you keep moving on towards the Ludhiana highway, another dhabha worth recommending is the Zamindara Dhabha. This has always been a must stop for me and my dad way back in the 80’s and 90’s. The kadhi chawal, the sandhu daal. Must have. Although, like every other dhabha, it does serve the regular fare of choles, rajma, paneer etc. But good food.  Recently when I searched for it, it is now called the New Zimidara Baba Neem Wala Dhabha. Well Highly recommended, and perhaps for retaining the same touch of a real dhabha and not having changed too much.

Towards Hoshiarpur: DS Dhabha and Hasiarpurian Da Dhabha

Another two Dhabha’s, which for me has been the find for the last few years is the DS Dhabha and Hoshiarpurian Da Dhaba at BP pump at Balachaur. When you drive ahead of Ambala, at the border of Punjab and Haryana, called the Shambhu Border, you will see a road going on the right hand side. Take this road and it goes from Banur, Kharar, Ropar. It by passes chandigarh and Mohali from the outskirts. At the intersection of ropar, there is a road on the left that goes towards Garh Shankar Balacahur. Take this road.





At Balachaur there is the Hoshiarpurian Da Dhaba at BP pump  on the right hand side, when you are going from ropar towards hoshiarpur. What I can say about this place is to try out their famous kadhi pakoda. The distinguishing thing about this place is the barfi made from pure milk and their besann burfis from desi ghee. These are divine and out of the world.
As you move ahead on this highway, cross Garhshankar and move towards hoshiarpur. You will come across the DS Dhabha on your left side of the road. Man, this has been the find. Amazing food. I remember stopping here on my way to Dharamshala. The daal makhani, mix veg, and roti’s. Amazing. The chai was pretty good as well.

Delhi Shimla Highway NH 22.
If you go on the highway towards Shimla and Kasauli, then it is worth mentioning the small little shops that come out around before Kasauli. They are unique in the sense that they sell non vegetarian pickles- mutton and chicken pickles. I have been told there is a place called Tilli, where the pickle is really famous.  But you can find it all thorough out this highway. You can stop taste and decide if you like it best. Going further ahead on the Shimla, just after the cut for Kasauli, you have Giani di Dhabha, which is famous for its lemon chicken.


These are probably the dhabha’s on the Punjab & HP highways that I love and recall. If you have any other dhabha’s worth sharing do let me know. As a true foodie, always looking out for the next place to try out. Perhaps in my next visit to India, I can go trying out and write about them and share the love.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Khaaja Chowk, Gurgaon



All right. This one is about Khaaja Chowk. This is a joint which has been in Gurgaon, for the last 13 years at Plaza Mall. Khaaja CHowk Full Full Indian. Well, this is an essentially Indian joint with a great menu. Located on the third floor of the mall, it does have quite a lot of stereotyped Indian décor. An Auto placed in the restaurant for kids, a long hand painting of various Indian men.

Let’s quickly jump onto the food. This place is just great. With the starters, the chaat is famous over here. Trust me the chaat is just too good. The palak patta chaat, dahi phuchka’s, papri chaat and dahi bada. Just beautiful. Perhaps it is the presentation that is also perfect. It’s the same chaat, but when presented on the white plate, with colorful capsicum red, green, yellow topped with sev, it just wins your heart out.  

Moving in next to the non veg section, the chicken banno kebabs are out of the world. Resembling the chicken malai kebabs or reshmi tikka’s, the chicken banno kebabs are white tikka’s succulent an soft, with a creamy texture. The Galauti kebabs are just about ok and not that I am too much of a fan to be honest.





Moving onto main course, in the non-veg section, the mutton Rezala is great. Soft and tender goat meat, along with keema in a thick gravy. This is also now called as Rarha Gosht. This dish is probably my favorite here.  Usually mutton is pretty abused in restaurants in India. This dish on the contrary is really good. A normal meal for me would be the chaat platter, the chicken banno kebab and mutton rezala.


On another instance I did go on a Tuesday when I am vegetarian. Well, besides the chat, I did for a change sample the vegetarian main course dishes. The Dal Makhani is out of the world in this place. Perhaps one of the best. Highly recommended. Further more on this occasion I also ordered for the Kadhai Paneer and the Muttor Mushroom. Both were really tasty and pretty good. The breads are baked fresh. The roti and naan are really good. the Ulte tawa ka parantha are not something I like. But other than this all other breads are really good.

Coming to the drinks, while the restaurant serves alcoholic drinks, I have comments on the non alcoholic section. During summers they serves ganne ka juice and aam ka panna. They also have chacha as well. The masala tea is probably an addiction for me after finishing my meal here at Khaaja Chowk.

If you are here for lunch, they do really great platters as well, with a mix of everything. These meals are good value for money and perfect for office lunches.

All in all, this is perhaps one of those very few places where I like to go out in Delhi for Indian cuisine- veg and non veg. The quality is good, prices are descent, and the service and décor is pretty good. All in all, the food doesn’t make you sick the next day, which is usually my biggest concern in most Indian eat outs in NCR.

Accept Credit Cards. A meal for two costs approx. Rs 1000/-

Khaaja Chowk, 3rd Floor Plaza Mall, MG Road Gurgaon

0124-4019112/13

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The journey of Momo’s : Manali to Delhi- Laguna Chinese Plaza.



Well, Momo’s. What do I say about them. In these days of internet and international travel, you can easily find, Momo’s as something similar to dumplings. Conceptually, correct, but dimsums are usually more popular in the Asian countries.  Momo’s refer to the Nepali variant.


About 14 years back, when I was travelling to Himanchal for a trekking expedition, in a village called Burua, about 20kms ahead of Manali, my first encounter with Momo’s occurred. I was with the Brathay Expedition Group with a group of 20 people from UK. On one of the evenings, we went searching for food onto the quaint little Himanchali village. One of the small kiosks agreed to make lamb momo’s for us. Priced at approx. Rs. 2.50/- a piece in the year 1999, the warm hot momo’s were just amazing. The lamb mince was coarse and intoxicating along with the aroma of garlic, ginger and coriander. Those few days at the village were perhaps an introduction into these little steamed dumplings, with which the friendship continues even till date.

Coming back to Delhi, in search of various Tibetian Markets and joints serving momo’s started. Over the last decade, the journey continued. In Delhi, way back in 2000, there were a handful of places that served Momo’s.  Often I heard about a joint in Chanakya Puri, another in front of Sangam cinema, RK Puram which served momo’s. Then Delhi Haat started and had a stall that’s served momo’s along with a clear coriander soup. There were talk of another joint at Def Col, which again served great momo’s. There was supposedly another one in Kamla Nagar.

In a few years, there was a revolution and a change that perhaps had the emergence of so called soul food. The emergence of malls, into NCR, and other smaller towns, the fast emerging internet and cellphones all amalgamated and led to this new sizzling pot pouri characteristic of the first decade of the 21st century in the NCR region.  All the malls were swarming with excited people who wanted to be part of this revolution, seeing new malls, glittery stores, swanky cars and mobile phones displayed. And for all these people, there quick new stores emerging in these malls, to feed them. Most of these malls had clientele ranging from students, middle class, all the way to upper class. While there were the upper class coming into the real buying segment with the purchasing power, but that was not the majority. The majority of the middle class and the school and college going crowd were in the malls. All these people wanted a part of the so called upper life- being part of mall culture and big brands. Shopping had changed from the regular neighborhood markets to the malls. At the same time all these people wanted value for money and economic options for eating while they were in the mall. A proper lavish lunch or dinner at a mall restaurant would have been expensive. For people who wanted just a quick bite and to be able to spend maximum time in the malls, they needed cheap eats. Most of them, with little spaces in view of the expensive commercial spaces and led to selling the soul food- primarily American corn with butter and lemon, and the steamed momo’s. Pretty soon it expanded to sausages, nacho's etc.

I recall being at Hyderabad for two years and I was particularly nostalgic and craving for Momo’s and I didn’t get it anywhere, until the Yo China shop opened and that was when I could relish a few schezwan dimsum’s , chilly chicken Bao’s. Come to the other spectrum, at high end restaurants, serving dumplings and Sui Mei’s and other variants. Restraunts such as Chopsticks, Golden Dragon, Fujiya and Zen, also had dim sums in their menu's

Even when I came over to Sydney and the hunt continued for Momo’s.  I discovered a place called Little Nepal situated at Burwood and another called Himalyan Char Grill at Crows Nest, which served Momo’s

Well, it might be evident from the above my never ending love for Momo’s. Now lets come to the review part. In all these years and across all these hundreds of places where I have had Momo’s, the taste I had in that small village in Manali, was never replicated. Nonetheless, a few places that I find memorable and close would be Chopsticks, a momo place in the heart of Manali near the bus stand. The other place being at Mcleodgang.

In Delhi, for me the must visit place for Momo’s is at Yashwant Palace, Chanakya Puri.  All the way since I came back from Manali in 1999, right in front of the erstwhile Chanakya Cinema complex was the lane with all the tibetian joints. Amongst them was Laguna Chinese Food Place. A small little shop. Now don’t ask how I selected this one, may be by pure coincidence, but all these years, it has een by far my favourite joint for Momo’s. The momo’s here are simply out of the world. Both the steamed variants, and the fried variants.  Way back in 2000, when I passed out of myschool, and dropped a year, my best friend Kapil and myself would often bunk college and take a DTC bus, get off at Chanakya Puri and go for the morning movie show in the front stall for Rs 12/- and then have a plate of momo, which would cost approximately Rs 35/- for the steamed variant and Rs 40/- for the fried version. Since then till today-

Fast forward about 13 years. The cost of a plate of Momo might have changed to Rs 120/- and Rs 130/- respectively.  But in all these years, the staff and the taste has not changed.
Well Laguna has been a must have stop for me in Delhi every time I visit. A plate of steamed chicken momo and the fried mutton momos are a must. Something about this store that the momos are so juicy. The first bite and it just squirts out all the juices from the minced mutton along with the garlic and onions.

Other than momo’s, if you wish to try out, do go for the Soup. The most favorite soup for me would be the Manchow Soup in chicken topped with the fried onions, or the hot and sour soup. If you are craving for the Thukpa, id most definitely recommend it here as well.

For the rest of it, look nothing to boast about. It is the regular fan fare of Chinese. If anyone from Delhi recalls in the early 90’s there used to be many Chinese vans which used to serve Chinese foods. This shop is quite similar, perhaps a bit better. Look to me as a kid, I loved food from the Chinese vans and they were really pronounced flavors of schezwan, garlin and soy. This place is pretty much on the same lines and food is great. Almost like street food, very authentic and yummy. You probably wouldn’t go here for ambience. This is place is a small little eatery, but the momo’s are undoubtedly the best ones I have had in many years.

Highly recommended. A meal for two would cost Rs 500/- at max.

Laguna Chinese Plaza
Shop Number 11, 18 Yashwant Place Market, Chanalya Puri, New Delhi

Tel: 011-26113662 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fat Lulu’s: New York Style Gourmet Pizza


All right this one is about a new pizza joint I tried out this year while I was in Gurgaon. Well, in my last few visits, I had walked past the shop in my neighborhood market, DLF Galleria. There was a shop called Fat Lulu’s, New York style Pizza which has been a take away. I didn’t get a chance to try it out in my last few visits and to be honest, Gurgaon, has all these new shops coming up regularly, which claim to be having an international alliance, have relatively higher rates for the international cuisines, suffer in quality and popularity and very soon, they disappear shortly.  Now given this scenario, I did pass this shop and didn’t really pay attention.

This time around one of my close friend and her husband invited me for lunch to Fat Lulu’s. There is another joint apparently in DLF Shopping Mall, on Arjun Marg, which has a dine in Fat Lulu’s joint. The ground floor, has a small take away portion and the staircase up to the first floor for dine in. The décor is pretty basic, with elongated wall papers of New York sky scrapers. The walls are rustic, with red bricks lined up. 

The tables and chairs are pretty rustic and raw wood finish, with no polish.

The first time I came around to this place for lunch, I was bowled over with the great pizza’s these guys make and decided to come back again another time.  Lets go over the menu- The starters have the garlic bread, paprika wedges, onion rings and the spicy chicken wings. Priced between Rs 100/- to Rs 150/- decently priced starters. I have tried the all the starters and would recommend the garlic bread with cheese and the spicy chicken wings. The chicken wings are really spicy and yum.

The menu has an array of pasta’s, salads and pizza’s. As the name suggest the widest array of choice is in the pizza’s.  Coming to the Pizza’s these are hand rolled and thin crust pizza’s. Pizzas are served in size of 12”, 14” and 16”. Ranging from Rs 400/- Rs 800/- depending upon the size of the pizza and if it is a veg or a non veg pizza.

For me , the choice was simple, it had to be a non veg pizza. Now among the non veg pizza’s there is ham, pork, pepperoni and prosciutto served, which becomes out of scope for me. Lets come to the pizza's. The pizza’s are simply yum and delicious. I went in on one occasion with my mom and brother and we ordered two 14” pizza’s. Now we did intend to try out a few variants and inquired if we can do half and half. With two medium pizza’s on half and half, we had the option of trying out four variants. We decided to settle for the

  • East Side: Grilled Chicken, Spanish onions and mozzarella cheese
  • Chilly Willy: Pimento Chillies, Jalapenos, Mushroom, roasted garlic and chillies
  • Upper Manhattan: tomato and sour cream, mozzarella, chicken breat mushroom onion and Cajun spice
  • Southwestern: grilled chicken breast, black beans, caramelized onions and tomatoes.  

Well, each of the pizza’s are simply heavenly and legendary. Beautifully presented on a wooden pizza plate, thin crusted and delicate. Just a bite and you know you have tasted heaven. Coming back to pizza’s I have tried at various locations and have a few writes up in my previous blogs.

This place now definitely is a must in my list of pizza places.  The upper Manhattan is amazing, and delicious. So is the chilly willy, which to be honest was too hot and to my surprise, but nonetheless loved it. The East side and  Southwestern were yum. Look all I can say is that the pizzas here are just too good to be true. Well spiced, and baked in a furnace that I visible in front of you, the hot piping pizza’s are a treasure. I would really recommend this to all of my readers.

















The ice tea, is another one which I loved over here. Unlike most places, which served you the regular ice team from Lipton, over here, they make the ice tea and then serve it. When you get your glass, you can feel the warm ice tea, topped with ice cubes. Gradually as you sip in, the ice settles down and makes the whole tea chilled.  Lovely.

Well, I can go on and on, but the truth to it is that I am in love with this joint. If some one asks me for my finds of small eat out treasures in Gurgaon this year, it would be Fat Lulu’s and Biryani Blues.

Highly recommended.  An average meal for two would cost approx. Rs1500/-. For the three of us, having gone for two medium pizza’s, two non-alcoholic beverages,  and two starters, it was approx. Rs 2500/-. Fairly reasonable I would say.

Accepts Credit Cards.

3, Arjun Marg, DLF Shopping Centre, DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon

0124-4245497/98/99 Mobile +91 8826460101 pizzaiolo@fatlulus.com







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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Delhi/ Gurgaon


All Right, This is another of my old formats on city based food options. I have been thinking of writing for quite some time now. I usually come into Delhi for either 2 weeks or 4 weeks. Now usually when I come over for such a short time frame and with the high on craving for Indian food, there is obviously a foodie itinerary or schedule to follow. The beauty of Delhi is that no matter how much money you have in your poclket or how less, you will get the best meals nonetheless. For as low as 10 bucks, to as high as 5-10k, delhi has it all. And the spirit of Delhi is tht no matter how poor or rich we get, people mingle to eat nonetheless. You will probably find a guy on the cycle and with a  Mercedes Benz out side a pan shop, or a kulfi wala, or having a chuski or at Rajinder having a plate of tikka's.

Look, Delhi does seem to be going more international and there is a greater array of cuisines such as Lebanese, Thai, Malaysian, Grills, and American etc. But for me, when I come to India and look for food in Delhi, it has to be stereotyped, and preferably Indian or things where I have eaten as I grew up and hence the connection. I wouldn’t really be looking for continental fare to be honest as Id probably get it better in Australia itself. Let’s see what all comes in store.

Indian Non Vegetarian/ Mughlai/ Tandoor

Kareem’s: A visit has to be to the mecca. Try out their Seekh Kebabs and Shami Kebabs, and the Qorma with Roti.

Rajinder Da Dhabha: Hardcore foodie place for those who mean business- just pure non veg delight. My recommendations would be for the Tandoori Chicken and the Fish Tikka’s. I recall having their spicy chicken gravy on a number of occasions.

Biryani Blue: My find this year- the best Hyderabadi biryani. Highly recommended-Go for the mutton Biryani, and for starters- the chicken 65, the margisi kofta or the shami kebabs , all worth dying for.

Pandara Road: If it is butter chicken, it has to be Pandara Road. Gulati’s is where I would go.

Khan Chacha’s: A new addition to my list for tikka’s. All their items are awesome- chicken tikka, seekh kebabs

Al Bake: At New Friends Colony- the best shawarma you’d ever eat.

Khaaja Chowk: The Chicken Banno and Mutton Rezala are recommended.

Confectionary & Bakery

Wenger’s: CP: Drool, the chicken patties, shami kebab, the chicken quiche and foot long.

Keventers: for their flavored milk and shakes.

Indian Vegetarian
South Indian- It has to be Naivedyam for me. Located in Hauz Khas and Gurgaon- great south Indian food

Halidrams/ Bikanerwala: for the traditional fare of chat, chole bhature,  pao bhaji and sweets

Road Side vendors for chole kulche and mangori or as they call raam ladoos. Also the Aloo chat, with the spicy green chutney. It’s wicked at the road side vendors.

Khaaja Chowk: Again in the vegetarian dept., especially with the chaat, and daal makhani.

Roshan Kulfi Wala at Ajmal Khan Road, Karol Bagh


Bengali Sweets: Annapurna: Opposite Uphar Cinema- the best and most authentic Bengali sweets. Start off with the Singara, which is basically the Bengali samosa.  Sometimes you might be lucky to get the variant with a filling of peas or cauliflower. Along with the samosa, try out the kachori and the paneer chop. Follow it up with a Taal saansh sandesh and cham cham, followed by the mishit Doi.

Italian:
Italiano in Gurgaon- one of my favorites. Try out their grilled fish with lemon butter sauce.
Amour Bistro @ Malcha Marg- a new find for me which I’d love to visit again

Pizzas & Burger’s
Fat Lulu’s- highly recommended @DLF Shopping Mall Gurgaon

Niruala’s: Call me old fashioned, but I still go to Nirula’s- their mutton mahaburger, the mutton sausage onion capsicum pizza,  the cold coffee and the nutty buddy ice cream

Wimpy’s for the lamb burger- too awesome

Chinese & Tibetian:

For Momo’s- it has to be Chanakya Puri. Nowhere else. Go for the steamed version as well as the fried version.

For Chinese: My favorite is Dyne Esty. Situated close to the HUDA City Center in Gurgaon, this place has the awesome-est Chinese.  The starters are heaven.

The next place for me Chinese at Bristol and

Chopsticks at Asiad Village, Siri Fort has a lunch buffet – pretty darn well.

Sometimes I might end up at Berco’s – their chicken in creamy garlic sauce is unique, although the service could have been better

Hope the above is helpful for a flying visit into Delhi. Hopefully if you have a few more please do leave your comments.