Tuesday, November 9, 2010

UPSC Chaat, Shahjahan Road

All right, what do I get to say about this place. As a kid I remember, coming to India gate on weekends, to play around in the park, revel at the majestic india gate and then having chat at this place next to the UPSC building at Shahjahan Road. Back then, it was difficult to enter this bylane, and there used to be this rush. Being a kid, I just had memories of a few street vendors making sizzling tikki’s, and this rush of people just trying to place their order.

After many years, today, I decided to go venture to delhi. As I started my car, I had no ideas of where I would be going. The idea was just a weekend drive, with my mom and brother and just enjoy the perfect weather. Right after diwali, not too warm, a little nip in the air, no ac required, and after having finished with the commotions of commonwealth games, durga puja, dusshera, diwali, and perhaps just before Barrack Obama’s visit, I thought, this is the opportune time to oblige the city with a visit.

There were a few options, Dilli Haat, CP, Indira Market and Al kauser’s biryani. As I drove aimlessly, I figured, the rashtrapati bhawan or the president house, india gate would be a worthwhile drive. After all, staying aat delhi, we often forget the majestic grandeur of these power centers of the country. I am sure any amount I say will not suffice to express the awsomeness of the president house. This coupled with the impenetrable security preceding obama’s visit, and the city painted with American and Indian flags.

Coming to the UPSC chat place on Shahjahan road, let me just say this is the perfect set up for street food. A quite little shop “ Shree Prabhu Chaat Bhandar” in the UPSC lane, adjoining UPSC building. One table where you oay and get the coupons. Started off with the Gol Gappa’s which were really great. Tangy water, aptly filled with potatoes and chickpeas, with the sauth kki chatni. A plate costed about 15 bucks and had 5 gol gappas. I was surprised and loved the fact that delhi was so cheap. I mean , in Gurgaon, any tom dick and harry with no substance overcharges you. Delhi is like killer man, I mean, just love it. even the parking is uniform ten bucks through out unlike the wild wild west, with the Jaat boys and the Veer Gurjar parking attendants who are ready to shoot.

Coming back to the grub, the next item on the list was bharwan gol gappas. I was just intrigued into what this was. Simple gol gappas with a sumptuous filling topped with curd, mint chutney, sauth chutney. This resembled more like paapri chaat, except that it had gol gappas.

Next on the menu was the aloo tikki’s. simply awesome. Piping hot, fried in front of you and then served with curd and chutney. One bite and it made you realize the combination of cold curd coupled with mouth burning hot tikki’s. Great stuff. The tikki was really great, and given a chance, I’d love to come back again for the tikki.

As I sat in my car and thought what next, I was saddened at the thought of going back home and living the routine life and getting into the grind of working from Monday. It was a bit depressing, and the fact that my small food adventure was coming to a close. Suddenly, I started feeling claustrophobic. It was like thopse innumerable scenes in movies, when the hero is stuck by a lightening and self realization dawns upon him that its now or never. When the hero decides to pursue and proclaim him undying love for the lady, and give it his best shot, so that there is no regret at the end. The last dash to claim immortality.

And so behold, I was feeling claustrophobic, confused. Would it be another plate of chaat or not. Would I just go away, and spend the rest of my life thinking that this last plate could have been mine. Or should I just suffer defeat and kill the spirit of that last plate of chaat. So, as I moved in slow motion, marching towards the man on the counter, innumerable questions encountered me. Would it papri chaat, or gulaab jamuns to finish it off. Or should the last item for the day be the one that rocks my evry existence. One look at the man, eye to eye, and he knew what was coming. One plate of Alu Chaat. Tenderly fried crisp potato cubes, with spicy chutney. As I gave the token to the chaat maker, he asked me innocently how spicy should it be. Being in the war mood, I said bring it on. Lets see what you’ve got. He turned, and started creating his masterpiece. After 5 minutes, he served the delicious looking potato cubes, with toothpicks. As I picked the first cube and put it into my mouth, I knew my life had radically changed. This was officially the spiciest alu chaat of my life. An inferno, which made my taste buds flame with the heat. It was where I had never gone before. The tangy taste of green chutney, the hotness of the red chilli and the secret masala, coupled with the lime juice. It was orgasmic.If I had ten voluptuous ladies, standing in front of me, waiting to be ravaged, this was the time. The heat of the chaat could have ensured I would have worn them out.

Simply put, it was fabulous. Bite after bite, I knew I couldn’t go on, but I just kept on going on. As the Alu chaat climax finished, I lay on my car seat, thinking of what had just happened. To relax, there was no cigarette after the session, like they show it in the movies. Instead, it was cup of ginger cardamom tea, just perfect.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


This much celebrated restaurant, has been in Gurgaon, for close to 10 years, i.e. to say that I have stayed in Gurgaon since 2000. Ironically, the chance to try out this place has come after these 10 years, and trust me, after trying it out, I can only regret why I didn’t venture here previously.

Amibience wise, I rate as very high. I loved the décor and lighting. Something about this place as I entered, made me like this instantly. Its not like one of those stereotyped high end plush hotels, rather, its got this freshness in its décor, which appeals. Its got this modern blend, along with a hint of a chill out café, and furniture, which has this spansih influence. The dim lighting, a small fountain amidst the tables, bar at the other end of the restaurant. Its got this Spanish/ Goa feel.

Moving onto the food, we ordered, a ‘Bruschetta con Salsicce Arroste e Formaggio’ or the non-veg bruschhetta as a starter. While the bruschetta is usually a hard bread, here it was relatively soft along with a topping of cheese, capsicum, onion and sausages. Quite delicious I must say. Sprinkle oregano chilli flakes and some olive oil, and just perfect.

This was followed by the main course, consisting of Lasagna con scelta di salsa Bolognese o Pollo, or the lamb lasagna. I would say the lasagna was just about descent. Garnished with cheese on the top and minced lamb mixed with the aromatic herbs. The portion was quite sufficient for a single person. The lasagna could have been a bit more cheesier and the flavour of lamb mince, if more prominent, would have made it just perfect. Nonetheless, I’d say pretty descent.

Moving on, the best discovery of the evening was the Grilled fish with rosemary and lemon butter sauce. Served with boiled vegetables such as carrots, beans, baby corn, along with two fillets of grilled fish, butter and lemon sauce. Just perfect. The fish was perfectly textured, marinated in vinegar, made the smell disappear, and it was perfectly grilled. The fish along with the lemon butter sauce, was just heavenly.

Overall, a great place to chill out in the evening. Well informed and courteous staff, great ambience, and delicious food. I’d say I’ll be back again at this place, whenever im in the mood for Italian.

Quick Facts
NR-27, Nathupur, DLF-3, Gurgaon
Tel:0124-4061895, 4062479

Meal for Two: Rs 1000/-
Cuisine: Italian
Bar: Yes

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Himalyan CharGrill- Nepalese Cuisine@ Crows Nest Sydney

Awrite, another post, perhaps after a long time. And hopefully, not the first in a long future to come. Having stayed at Sydney, for the last 4 months, I have been trying out various eat outs ranging across varying cuisines.

While it is common to find cuisines such as Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Lebanese, Italian and Indian, the concept of Nepalese cuisine was quite interesting. Interesting because it is rare to find Nepalse cuisine and further, having stayed in India all my life, I really was unaware of the existence of Nepalese cuisine as such.

Sunday evening, lazy to not cook, I decided to try out the Himalyan Chargrill at Crows Nest, Sydney. Having heard many reviews and recommendations, I reckoned that perhaps it is time to evaluate if this eat out is actually of substance or just an inflated misguided promotion.

A small restaurant, nestled in the Crows Nest Plaza, it resembles more of a small eat out in your neighbourhood market. A small shop with 4 tables inside, and a couple of tables outside. The decor is very simplistic, minimal in nature, which some how has a soothing appeal. No excessive fanfare and gaudy decor to make it clichéd stereo typed restaurant. Just good food and strictly business.

Dishes ordered:

Chicken Momo's
Goat Curry
Aloo Mushroon

The momo's were pretty average. While I have been craving for having momo's and it was actually a treasure to find momo's in Sydney, I guess I was more excited about having the momo's. The momo's cost about $10 and had six pieces, served with a tomato sauce. The momo's were quite succulent and well filled with chicken, onion, garlic, I'd say they were pretty descent. Perhaps the reason why I would restrain myself from giving it a full humbs up is because, I think it could have been more juicy and a bit more spicier in the filling inside the momo. I guess, the dish catered more to aussie taste, than the actual.

Moving on to the Goat curry, I must say this was really good stuff. Usually, with Indian cuisine being so common across Sydney, that more often than not, the dishes are just an abberation and abused. Particularly, I am normally apprehensive to have goat in Sydney, as it is firstly rare to find and secondly, in most places, the quality and texture of goat meat is quite debatable.

In this regards, I must admit that the Himalyan chargrill scores over most of the restaurant. The goat curry was quite sumptuous. The quality of meat as tender, soft and succulent. The gravy in itself was just perfect, thick and a bit spicy to my liking, but considering I ordered it to be spicy, I was quite satisfied. The curry was served with fragrant Basmati rice, which I must say is again just too good. I mean you get rice in every shop, but here, the rice was just perfectly done, long grained and fragrant, it just added to the perfect taste. The goat curry, rice and a dash of lemon was just as close to orgasmic satisfaction.

The aloo mushroom gravy was another interesting dish. Baby potatoes and fresh mushroom cooked in a light yellowish orange tomato gravy tempered with fenugreek leaves, not too spicy and yet had the delicate taste of cumin and coriander and the individual spices.

All in all to summarize, good place to eat out, not too expensive and not too busy. The staff is friendly, from Kathmandu. A meal for two should not exceed $40-$50. I'd say I'd love to go back for the goat and a quite little evening dinner with friend and just relax.

Quick Info

Himalayan Char- grill
Shop 18/ 103-111 Willoughby Rd,
Crows Nest Plaza,
Crows Nest, NSW 2065
Phone and fax 02-99665540

Opening hours
Lunch : Monday to Saturday
Dinner: 7 nights 5.30 onward

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