Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Eating in Delhi”

Review: Cafe Yell

My first impression of Cafe Yell at Defence Colony Market was adorable. As you walk inside the cafe, the theme reminds you of clothes and tailors. After all, the cafe is a venture of the clothing brand Yell.

With oversized buttons, sewing machine, measuring tapes and coloured spools as decorations, Cafe Yell gives off a cozy and comforting feeling from the moment you step inside. It’s been about two months since the opening, but Cafe Yell has already made a name in the locality.

The smile is warm and inviting as you are seated. The menu cards are crisp and to the point, each dish described without much fuss, just how it should be. We order for iced tea, lemon soda and Yell watermelon mojito. They were perfect thirst quenchers in the heat which has engulfed Delhi and will continue to do so for some months.

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The food at Cafe Yell is what people are talking about. Let me tell you now how impressed I was. Right from starters to the mains, each dish was well balanced and left our tastebuds wishing for more (of course we’d need gigantic stomachs for that!)

First up, the Mozzarella Jalapeno Bombs had the perfect amount of gooey cheese and with their special dip, the taste just accentuated to a higher level. Don’t we all love Nachos? Well, you must try them at Cafe Yell because it has the perfect amount of topping and melted cheese. Together with salsa and sour cream, they make for a delicious start to your meal. The chicken Quesadilla was tasty and well-seasoned but somehow, didn’t quite hit the mark as much as the other two starters had.

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Mozzarella Jalapeno Bombs were the bomb!

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Chicken Quesadilla!

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Nachos anyone?

For the mains we started with pizza with four different types of toppings – Polo Speziato (chicken), pepperoni (pork), fungi (mushroom) and Spring Fling (assortment of veggies). The thin crust hand tossed pizza was simply outstanding. I’m not fond of veggies on my pizza much, but at Cafe Yell I licked the plate clean (just figuratively!) Then came the lamb burger with fries and slaw. The patty was succulent and well seasoned which is so important while the bun on its own was soft. But the highlight personally was the Risotto with bacon. There are some plates of food which look good but a taste undoes all expectations. At Cafe Yell, the moment the Risotto came out hot, just looking at it made us salivate. And as we took a spoonful to taste, we were left craving for more. The salt from the bacon complimented the creamy rice and took the experience to a different level altogether.

The desserts, however, didn’t live up to our expectations. While both, the salted caramel cheesecake and butterscotch brownie cup were good, we preferred the starters and mains more.

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Yell Watermelon mojito

We found out that Cafe Yell has a breakfast menu. So, the next time we are in the mood for some brekkie, we sure know where to head!

I would definitely recommend heading to Cafe Yell because the food is great, service fantastic and the pocket pinch not too much. So what are you waiting for!

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Review: Jom Jom Malay at Ansal Plaza

Pretty interiors

Pretty interiors

Bright colours that catch your eye, a happy atmosphere, smiling and cheerful staff, and finger-licking delicious Malaysian food – that’s what Jom Jom Malay is all about. A recent addition to Delhi’s restaurant scene, and located at Ansal Plaza, Jom Jom Malay is the city’s first Malaysian restaurant.

From the moment you walk in, the vibrant setting gives you a comfortable vibe.The blue and pink cushions, wooden tables and typical Malaysian wall decor instantly makes you want to taste the food. And while you place an order and wait, try your hand at making sambal? Sambal is probably the most popular condiment in Malaysian cuisine and in many recipes, act as a foundation. The usual suspects are brought to the table – ginger, garlic, chilli, onion, lime, sugar, salt and chilli oil along with a mortar and pestle. Then comes an already-made array of sambals from the Jom Jom Malay kitchen. So, test your sambal-making skills as you grind the ingredients into a paste to the ones on the table. As I dug into the sambal that had shrimps, my attempt at recreating the condiment came nowhere close the taste!

The sambal attempt!

The sambal attempt!

First arrived an array of Baos – stuffed with chicken, lamb and duck. Soft, melt-in-your-mouth baos complimented each filling. Every bite had you craving another one. Each very distinctive, my favourite was the duck with it’s deep star anise flavour. Not many places can make good cocktails but Jom Jom Malay’s Cuban Malay had me floored. A burst of citrus in every sip, it complimented the baos perfectly.

Baos (from left) Lamb, Duck and Chicken

Baos (from left) Lamb, Duck and Chicken

Cheers?

Cheers?

Anyone who visits South East Asia, the first food item they bite into is a Satay. A satay is a piece of skewered and grilled meat that’s served with peanut sauce. Malaysians like their food to be more curried than dry so there’s an additional sauce served alongside crackers and a salad. If you like your satay to have a bit of gravy, just pour out a bit of the sauce on it and then dip it into the traditional peanut sauce. There were chicken, lamb, fish and prawn satays on offer. The lamb satay wins hands down. That would be my recommendation. The chicken was flavoursome while the fish was cooked perfectly, the prawns were slightly rubbery.

Satays and more

Satays and more

Next came sticky rice with an onion and sambal stuffing to be consumed with more shrimp sambal. Malaysian cuisine has a lot of Indian influence along with others from neighbouring South East Asian countries. Thus, when I took a bite of the stuffed pancakes or Murtabak, I was immediately reminded of the famous Mughlai paratha.

Sticky rice

Stuffed sticky rice

Stuffed pancakes!

Stuffed pancakes!

Jom Jom Malay believes in making everything from scratch. They grind their own pastes, make their own condiments and while at it, has added interesting twists to some flavours. For example, they use well seasoned dried mango skin in certain salads just to enhance the flavours. “The only thing we get is coconut milk because that would be difficult to make!” says Aftab Sidhu, who has conceptualised the menu.

Yup, that's me digging in!

Yup, that’s me digging in! The plate speaks my emotions!

The Nasi Goreng is an all-time favourite while the Rendang I make at home often. I was so glad that I got to taste both. With so many influences in the cuisine, debates rage on the origin of the dish. While they both may have originated in Indonesia, each country has made it their own with unique influences. In the Nasi Goreng, mix the sambal and crackers with an egg that binds the rice and serve it with coconut and chilli and a satay. Each bite is so pleasurable that if my stomach allowed, I would have asked for more. The Rendang was very different to the ones I’ve had earlier. I confess Malaysia has been left out of my South East Asian sojourns so far and I’m waiting to visit the country to try their food. The lamb was so soft and tender that it literally melted in your mouth. It was the perfect curry to have with roti canai. Also, the texture reminded me so much of Kosha Mangsho that I can’t wait to go home just to have my mother’s homemade mutton curry!

Just look at that Nasi Goreng!

Just look at that Nasi Goreng!

Lamb Rendang

Lamb Rendang

The name Jom Jom, loosely translated, means let’s go! So, what are you waiting for? Go and indulge in delectable Malaysian food right in the heart of Delhi!

Ambiance: 4.5/5
Food and beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Where: Ansal Plaza at Khel Gaon Marg
Follow Jom Jom Malay on Facebook

Review: Taksim at Ansal Plaza

Cocktails at Taksim

Cocktails at Taksim

I stay very close to Ansal Plaza located in Khel Gaon, yet in the short years that I’ve stayed in the city, I’d never manage to go there. It looked so run down from afar. But now there’s a buzz. New restaurants have opened, many more are in the pipeline while a sporting goods store has many visiting Ansal Plaza on a daily basis. Taksim opened its doors in December 2016 but their alcohol license came only a month later. It’s only been some weeks, but Taksim has managed to garner a crowd of regulars, which I might add, is difficult in this city.

“Why Ansal Plaza?” I asked. Sahil, who manages Taksim, replied, “Why not? It’s in the heart of the city, has a huge parking space, a prime location and convenient.” And going by the crowd, it seemed Taksim had hit upon a jackpot — jam-packed on a weekday evening!

The cutlery wall

The cutlery wall

As we walked into Taksim, the music from the good old days filled the air. Lip syncing to Abba and Whigfield and remembering the last time I heard their music, I felt impressed with Taksim’s interiors at first glance. Spacious, a lot of wood, pretty walls and an open space – a really good combination. The menus were placed in front of us as we ordered for drinks – Cosmo for the sister and Taksim Square (vodka with pomegranate seeds and basil) for me. Sipping on the delicious cocktails (both hit the mark), we ordered for the food.

Fish fish, spicy spicy

Fish fish, spicy spicy

First arrived Kohliwada Fish Tikka. Played against white, it stood out against the brown table. As a food blogger, we do tend to let the food get cold just to capture that perfect shot. But not this time! The smell was just too enticing so pictures captured, we dug in. Spicy just the way I like with a mint dip, it set the mood for the rest of the evening.

Crispy spinach with curd, tamarind and mint

Crispy spinach with curd, tamarind and mint

Then came the Palak Patta Ki Milly Filly Chaat (Crispy spinach leaves with yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney). Each bite had a great balance of sweet and sour. The Ishq Sufiana (cottage cheese or paneer with fennel) was the highlight for me. I’m a strict non vegetarian but the paneer had me the moment it touched my mouth. So soft and well seasoned that each bite had me craving for more.

Paneer love aka Ishq Sufiana

Paneer love aka Ishq Sufiana

The Thai Basil Chicken is a good appetizer option with drinks and cocktails while the Chicken Shawarma is an option when you visit in a group. Served with pita and hummus: tear, fill and gobble! The cottage cheese steak pao is a meal in itself. A slab of cottage cheese in between a bun served with a huge serving of fries and dips, is definitely an option for a main at Taksim.

Chicken Shawarma platter

Chicken Shawarma platter

Thai Basil Chicken

Thai Basil Chicken

Who can so no to dessert right? We ordered the Blueberry cheesecake and Banoffee Pie. By then the lights had dimmed, the 90s music had given way to live Sufi music as the crowd swayed to the rhythm. Taksim actually has music theme nights – from reliving the 90s to EDM and live acts. Realise the kind of music you’re in the mood for and head to Taksim to enjoy a fulfilled evening with good food and music.

Paneer pao

The paneer pao is very filling

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Where: Ansal Plaza at Khel Gaon Marg
Follow Taksim on Facebook

Review: Food Festival at Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav, IGNCA

Anyone hungry?

Anyone hungry? Just look at the variety!

As you enter the gates of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the colourful posters immediately catch your eye. People mill about as traditional music can be heard over the PA system. There are men dressed in traditional outfits beating drums which everyone gathers to hear while men in stilts entertain the young ones. The smell of delicious food wafts through to tickle the nose. Above all, it’s a festive atmosphere and a perfect way to spend a winter afternoon in Delhi.

Indian thalis are an absolute delight!

Indian thalis are an absolute delight!

The second edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahostav is being held at IGNCA near India Gate. Organized by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, it’s a 10-day extravaganza to celebrate culture, food, heritage and the diversity of the country. “Can anyone walk in?” asked my auto driver as I was paying him. I nodded in affirmation.

Dumplings from the North East

Dumplings from the North East

What drew me to the celebrations was obviously the food! With food stalls from all across the country, the festival stayed true to showcasing diversity. From Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, Nagaland to Rajasthan there was plenty on offer for every taste bud at reasonable prices.

Melt-in-your-mouth Galauti

Melt-in-your-mouth Galauti

I began at the Lucknow food stall where melt-in-your-mouth Galauti Kebabs were on offer. One could also taste biryani, parathas and other kebabs from the Awadhi kitchens. From Lucknow, I moved east towards the Bihar stall to gorge on Litti Chokha. It’s caught up in Delhi with many Bihar-themed restaurants springing up but the wheat and sattu (gram flour) delicacy is best eaten on paper plates from roadside vendors.

Litti Choka from Bihar, a delicacy from the state

Litti Chokha from Bihar, a delicacy from the state

The stalls from Assam caught all eyes with skewers of meat and seafood on display. The roast pork and chicken tossed with onions, cilantro, lime juice and spices was absolutely delicious. “We’ve come from Dibrugarh,” said the smiling lady behind the counter as she chopped up the pieces of meat.

Meat and more meat!

Meat and more meat!

Ready to be devoured!

Ready to be devoured!

From the east, it was time to move towards the west. I’m an avid fan of street food and the kind one gets in Maharashtra has me drooling every time I see them on a menu. I just had to taste the Sabudana khichdi simply because I hadn’t had it in two years! The first bite did justice to the long wait. The crushed peanuts, lime juice, spices complimented the sago (sabudana) perfectly, each bite leaving me wanting more.

Dhabeli from the streets of Bombay

Dhabeli from the streets of Bombay

One of my favourite kind of breakfasts!

One of my favourite kind of breakfasts – Sabudana Khichdi

The Hyderabad stall next door was racking up fast business with people ordering plates and plates of biryani and kebabs. With a tummy ready to burst I couldn’t take another bite but my kind neighbours looked at my forlorn face and asked, “Do you want a picture of this?” I nodded and quickly photographed my favourite kind of biryani before they could rescind the offer!
It had been a delicious afternoon, my favourite kind. I love food and when I get a chance to taste diverse cuisines from my own country, it leaves a big smile on my face. India is so vast and beautiful, each region with its own charm that it will take one a full lifetime to taste everything our country offers. But until that happens, head to IGNCA to get a taste!

Oh Biryani my love!

Oh Biryani my love!

Review: 38 Barracks – A Twist on Traditional Navratra Celebrations

The interiors of 38 Barracks

The interiors of 38 Barracks

I had heard a lot about 38 Barracks but I visited the restaurant, situated in Connaught Place, thanks to a bloggers meet. Like most places, this eatery too was catering to the Navratra celebrations but unlike most restaurants which prefer to serve a set thali, 38 Barracks put a twist on it. “We are serving a four-course menu. One can either order each course separately, or the whole meal together,” says Ankur Agarwal, out host for the afternoon.

Another view of the interiors

Another view of the interiors

It’s a great concept because one often doesn’t like to devour a whole thali. It can be the case of wanting to pick and choose what to eat instead of everything the set thali offers. The four-course meal is priced at Rs 799 only and curated by Michelin-recommended chef Gautam Chaudhry.

The Special Navratra menu

The Special Navratra menu

The food is not the usual fare, trust me. The humble sabudana (Tapioca Sago) which is widely used during the festival, is paired with raisins and the sago risotto was mouth-watering! Even the dips are unusual with coconut chutney taking centre stage with most starters.
A look at what we devoured:

Hello Pina colada!

Hello Pina Colada!

The deep fried Kurkuri Kamal Kakdi

The deep fried Kurkuri Kamal Kakdi with Sabudana papad

Sabudana and Prunes ki Tikki

Sabudana and Prunes ki Tikki

Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

Singhade aur Aloo ke Tikki

Singhade aur Aloo ke Tikki

Paneer Parcels on Sago Risotto

Paneer Parcels on Sago Risotto

Chironjee ki Daal

Chironjee ki Daal

Harissa Upma with Paneer Steaks (Not in the menu but just as delicious!)

Harissa Upma with Paneer Steaks (Not in the menu but just as delicious!)

Makhana kheer with fruits

Makhana Kheer with fruits

What really works is the ambiance. The old and retired colonel’s house-themed restaurant with nostalgic bric-a-brac on walls and fantastic live music for the visitors should be on the list of must-visit places in Delhi.

Ambiance: 5/5
Food and beverage: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Where: Connaught Place, New Delhi
Follow 38 Barracks on Facebook and Instagram

Review: Scooter On The Wall in SDA Market

The interiors

The interiors, nice isn’t it?

Walking up the steps, colourful walls kept me company till I reached the first floor. A tire which worked as a door knob, a rather large door knob at that, opened up to a lovely yellow light lit room with gorgeous out-of-the-box furniture while David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’ on the music system had me humming along as I was seated.

Photo frames on the wall make a great style statement

Photo frames on the wall make a great style statement

I’ve been to cafes in India before which have an automobile theme, but none I’ve found to be as quaint as Scooter on the Wall. Located in Delhi’s SDA Market near the IIT, it takes a while to locate the first floor eatery but once you reach and eat, you go home satiated. Quirky interiors, funky music and delicious food – these words best sum up an afternoon lunch experience.

Glancing around I found all tables to be full of chatter and banter. From students to professionals, everyone seemed to be enjoying a long lazy lunch. The tables at the centre which has scooters as table stands simply added to the charm.

The Watermelon Kala Khatta and the Antioxidant. perfect to sip on

The Watermelon Kala Khatta (left) and the Antioxidant. perfect to sip on

As whiffs of freshly baked and cooked food filled the area, the ‘Watermelon Kala khatta’ mocktail hit the right spot on a humid day. Glancing across the menu, it was interesting to notice each food and beverage section had automobile-themed headings, from scooter shakes to the top gear, fuel tankers to headlights!

As the mocktail quenched my thirst, the taste made me go down memory lane… those school days when after the last bell to freedom rang out we would often rush to the chuski stand outside the gates. Kala khatta would be devoured with gusto as we exchanged gossip from different classrooms. Its strange how Proustian memory works isn’t it? After all, we all face the Madeleine Moment in our daily lives…

The peanut butter shake, don't let the colour fool you! But it goes well with the background doesn't it?

The peanut butter shake, don’t let the colour fool you! But it goes well with the background doesn’t it?

All the peanut butter lovers out there definitely order the peanut butter shake here. It’s an overload of peanut butter, which one can’t go wrong with, decorated with cream and sprinkles. It’s perfectly accompanied by spicy black pepper chicken.

Then came the ‘Shishtouk’ platter. Succulent kebabs, delicious hummus, pita and turshi all well balanced and complementing each other. I could indulge on this starter as a main by itself and all by myself. Well, I would have to run 10 km the next day, but hey, well worth it!

Delicious chicken

Delicious chicken

Shishtouk anyone?

Shishtouk anyone?

The steamed chicken suimai that followed came with soup and dipping sauces. Its presentation – on a tray – was nice, especially for pictures against the wooden table top. The butter chicken pasta or the ‘Desiride with Kukkad’ was interesting. With butter chicken extremely popular in this part of India, eateries often try and combine the flavours with Italian dishes. Lastly, the ‘Café Cheese Chicken Burger’ served with ketchup and fries is what I’ll definitely recommend.

Steaming dim sums, nice presentation isn't it?

Steaming dim sums, nice presentation isn’t it?

Butter chicken pasta!

Butter chicken pasta!

Really a good burger!

Really a good burger!

The portions ensure one doesn’t go hungry while the taste lives up to each dish sampled. The interiors make a patron comfortable while the music keeps a head nodding. For the ones hooked to hookah, don’t fear. One can enjoy it while snacking on the munchies!

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Where: 1st Floor, C-4, SDA Market, New Delhi

Review: Tea Trails Café in Connaught Place

White tea served with a tea timer and details

Green tea served with a tea timer and tea details

For some, tea is passion. For some, it forms the very core of their being. Unable to function sans the morning cup, unable to think straight without that specific cup of chai with the mixture of cardamom, clove and ginger, tea becomes a way of life.
For Kavita Mathur, the co-founder of Tea Trails, tea is sheer passion. “I took a sabbatical some years ago. During that time I read up about tea. I visited places and realized tea is huge is other countries. We wanted to take the tea experience to another level in India and with our past expertise in franchising, we (with husband Uday) set up Tea Trails in Mumbai in 2013,” smiles Kavita. The name has grown across India with the aim to have many more such outlets across the nation by 2020.

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Attention to detail
I visited their newly-opened bistro in Connaught Place on a weekday evening. The location is absolutely fabulous in the heart of the city. What impressed me as I stepped inside was the set up. From the pale green and white combination of colours to soothe the eye to dark polished seating, Tea Trails has got it spot on.
As you sit down, the smiling server offers you a welcome drink. With over 80-100 combinations of teas, coolers and chais on the menu, one has a lot to choose from. I loved that each tea is accompanied by a little note which explains the origins, brewing time and how best to drink it. And, their sampling table is perfect because one can decide on what to take back if one wants after tasting the various flavours.

The sampling counter

The sampling counter

Kavita Mathur

Kavita Mathur

Re-invention, re-discovery
The aim of Tea Trails is to re-invent the popular beverage. To get more people to rediscover tea. Tea Trails believe in pairing tea with food, with the use of leaves in many preparations. “It’s almost as if one pairs wine with food, we pair teas with food,” Kavita adds.
As a delicate white tea was served alongside a delicious Burmese Tea Salad with olive and sesame oil dressing, it paired beautifully with each sip. The balance of the leaves and the flavor was perfect.
Making tea is not an easy task. It depends on the quantity of leaves used, the temperature of water, the brewing time, the quality of the leaves and from where it’s procured. Tea Trails have tied up with tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris to give the customers an authentic experience, alongside procuring leaves from different parts of the world.

Kashmiri Kahwa

Kashmiri Kahwa sans sugar

Delicate white tea

Delicate white tea

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Too many varieties
For the first time I tasted Kashmiri Kahwa without oodles of sugar dissolved in it. It was beautiful. And it pair gorgeously with the olive and green tea bruschetta. My favourite was the smoky Lapsang Souchong from the Fujian province of China. The buttered apple tea was interesting as was the Red Zen tisane. The word tisane always takes me back to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirit who loved his sirops and tisanes!

Olive and green tea bruschetta

Olive and green tea bruschetta

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Red Zen tisane!

Red Zen tisane!

My suggestion would be to go and check out this new café at your earliest. It’s pocket friendly and has something for all palates. Including filter coffee for the non-tea lovers!

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam

Review: Amreli, Hotel Diplomat

Welcome to Amreli

Welcome to Amreli

There’s something charming and gorgeous when you walk into an old building. Maybe it has something to do with nostalgia because the moment I walked into Hotel Diplomat, I was transported to a grandmother’s ancestral home back in Calcutta. The old-fashioned styled house with verandahs and railings nestled amidst greenery makes one feel welcome, makes one feel refreshed. What is so fabulous about Amreli, their restaurant, is that one can choose to sit indoors or outdoors amidst the luscious greenery. I would have loved to sit outdoors but rain played spoilsport. Well, there’s always a next time isn’t it.

The pretty menu

The pretty menu

Interesting concept
Amreli is an interesting concept which has been started by Sidhant Lamba. A cross between a diner and bistro, the 105-seating capacity upscale restaurant is perfect for families, friends or/and a perfect date. From the art hanging on the walls to the chequered flooring, the use of purple and gold on paper table mats with elephant-shaped side plates, Amreli offers a nice sobering ambiance, perfect for an elegant evening. The service was really good as everyone made me feel welcome, right from the time I entered till the time I left.

The restaurant

The restaurant

Comfortable seating

Comfortable seating

Delicious Starters

Peek-a-boo with the vegetarian dimsums

Peek-a-boo with the vegetarian dimsums

Amreli offers North Indian, South Indian and Pan Asian cuisines. I decided to try Pan Asian simply because I was craving it the past couple of days. And Chef Neelam made sure I wasn’t disappointed. The Chilli Prawns with coconut, scallion, pepper and onion were perfect as were the platter of vegetarian dim sums. Steamed perfectly, each bite was a delight. The prawns were cooked fine and the hints of chilli absolutely didn’t overpower. The size of the prawns and quantity left me impressed.

Hello there prawns

Hello there prawns

View from the top

View from the top (see the pretty flooring!)

Mains & Sweets
With two starters consumed along with a glass of Old Fashioned (did I mention they have a fabulous cocktail menu? Well, check it out for yourself when you visit!) I asked Chef Neelam for a tasting platter for the mains. The wait for a bit long-ish but when the food came, I wished I had more space in my stomach to eat more. For the vegetarian tasting platter there was Tofu in Sambal Sauce, Mushroom in Black Bean Sauce along with rice and noodles. The non-vegetarian platter had Red Thai Chicken Curry and Balinese Prawn Curry with sticky rice and fried rice. I like vegetarian food but the tofu blew me away. Given a choice I wouldn’t have ordered for it but I’m glad Chef Neelam made it. The softness of the Tofu was perfect with the spicy Sambal sauce. The Red Thai Chicken Curry was perfectly balanced with sticky rice and the prawns stood out on their own. I know what to eat when I go back next!
For dessert, Chef brought out a Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake and Tiramisu. I would surely recommend the Tiramisu because the taste was great and it was light. The fudge cake tasted nice but it was too heavy for me personally to enjoy after such a decadent meal.

The non-veg platter

The non-veg platter – chicken and prawns

The vegetarian platter

The vegetarian platter – tofu and mushrooms

Close ups, smile please :)

Close ups, smile please 🙂

The light as feather Tiramisu

The light as feather Tiramisu

Decadent Fudge

Decadent Fudge

Would I go back?
Whenever visiting a new restaurant, the last question I ask myself after a meal is would I go back. If I say yes, there are three aspects involved in that decision. One, is the food obviously. Second, the price and third, the ambiance. After visiting Amreli, it was an easy decision for me. The food is definitely worth the money and the ambiance is wonderful. If you find yourself in Chanakyapuri, do go visit.

Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Where: Hotel Diplomat, 9 Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, #011 46050200

Picnic Pasta Bake with Mini Chicken Meatballs

The much-loved Delhi winters have come and gone but the weather hasn’t turned so warm that one can’t enjoy a picnic. If you ever visit Delhi, make sure Lodhi Gardens is on your go-to list. Green, gorgeous, tranquil and in the heart of the city, the gardens are a perfect picnic spot. I absolutely adore picnics. It’s a time to be silly, play badminton to your heart’s content (a great exercise for the indulge ahead), eat gorgeous food, doze under the shade of a tree, catch up on your reading, gossip with friends and feel like a child in the adult world. This bake is super easy but takes time. So, make sure you are not in a hurry. It is the perfect picnic food to consume on a lazy weekend in the midst of history and greenery with friends from back home.

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

The gorgeous greenery at Lodhi Gardens

Ingredients
For Meatballs (Makes 12-15 depending on size)
500g Minced chicken
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs chilly flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 egg
250g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbs oil

For Sauce
2 large ripe tomatoes (diced)
1 onion (chopped)
1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 can tomato puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp heaped smoked paprika
3 tbs butter (room temperature)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil

For Pasta
2 handful Penne
1 lt boiling water
1 tsp oil
Salt to season

For Bake
2 cubes of cheese (grated)
1 tsp butter (to grease baking tin)

The view from our picnic spot

The view from our picnic spot

– Boil the water with oil and salt. Cook the penne according to packet instructions.
– Drain penne and keep aside. But save the water.
– Place the minced chicken, chopped onion and garlic, dried oregano, chilly flakes, cumin, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
– Mix well and use your hands to form mini meatballs. Keep aside.
– Heat a pan and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and chilly flakes to sautee well.
– Add the chopped carrot and onion. Let them cook through.
– Add the tomatoes and the can of tomato puree.
– Add oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Clamp on a lid and let the sauce cook.
– As the sauce cooks, heat another pan with oil.
– Once hot, add the meatballs in small batches and brown.
– Add the meatballs to the sauce and let them cook through. Be patient as this will take some time. You will notice the sauce reduce considerably in quantity. Take off the heat
– Grease a baking tin with butter. Pre-heat the oven to 250 C
– Take out the meatballs and place them in the tin.
– In the sauce, add 1 tbs butter and a ladel of the starch water. Mix well.
– Repeat this twice more untill you see a sheen on the sauce. It will become a thin sauce.
– Add more dried herbs (optional)
– Put the meatballs back in the saucepan along with the penne. Coat pasta and meatballs well.
– Place the mixture in the greased baking tin and cover generously with grated cheese. (I use processed for this)
– Put in oven for 20 minutes.
– Take out once the cheese has melted and cool
– Pack in foil and you’re ready for the picnic!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The pasta bake uncovered!

The view from the top - Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

The view from the top – Pasta bake, biryani, chips and two types of cakes!

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens

After a soul satisfying day, we saw the sun set at Lodhi Gardens

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