By Anubhav Sapra
I still remember an article titled “The Year That Was” written by Rahul Verma in The Hindu, the only food writer in India whom I follow religiously, and who mentioned in his last article of 2013 about his most memorable meals of the year. One of them was in Monkey Bar.
Indeed, it turned out to be one of my most memorable meals of 2014. Monkey Bar. or Mobar, a gastropub, opened their second branch in Connaught Place this year, located at 3, Connaught Circus, Connaught Lane, above Uttam Sarees shop.
The dishes have been curated by one of India’s most promising young chef and entrepreneur. Manu Chandra. I had no doubt about the food as I had read extensive reviews before visiting the Mobar.
Ankit, a trained chef and the restaurant manager at Monkey Bar CP, introduced the dishes one by one to me comprehensively. With deep research about the nearby restaurants and bars in Connaught Place, these fusions have been curated to suit the palate of every customer. On Ankit’s recommendation, I started with ricotta and paneer kebab, served with grilled pav and tomato kalonji chutney. Next was keema bao, a freshly steamed bao of rice, stuffed with spicy minced mutton and served with rich mutton broth in a small glass topped with coriander. The keema bao broth is perfect for Delhi winters. I can imagine myself having mutton broth on the terrace of Mobar to keep myself warm, when the temperature will dip further in the coming winter months. Dabeli, a Gujarati snack is served with tamarind and masala flavoured potato in fresh pav coated with sev, heeng peanuts, pomegranate, fig, tamarind, and garlic chutney. The two starters, which I am sure would be loved by Delhiites are chilli cheese dragons – spring rolls filled with cream cheese and mozzarella, green chilli, capsicum, coriander, onion and served with roasted garlic chilli dip; and butterfly chicken, which consists of sweet, spicy, crispy bits of chicken tossed with sesame, chilli, honey and peppers, stuffed in Mobar’s signature butterfly shells.
In the main course, I had Chandra Ji’s mutton curry. This dish is named after the chef’s father, Mr. Chandra. The succulent lamb is cooked with khada masala, curd, butter, and served with steamed rice topped with caramelized onions. This was my kind of mutton, which I normally cook at my home with raw spices. The aroma of the spices is intact and can be felt while eating. The most interesting dish I had at Mobar was butter chicken khichdi. It sounds really unusual to mix khichdi with butter chicken, and the dish while being offbeat, was truly delectable. The softness of creamy moong dal khichdi with succulent pieces of chicken served with “khichdi ke paanch yaar” – ghee, papad, dahi, salad and achaar, was a great gastronomical experience. I added a spoon of ghee, crushed papad, mixed dahi, and salad to make a perfect mix of khichdi and butter chicken. It was indeed divine.
I was also served patra ni machi, a classic Parsi dish with a Bengali twist, basa topped with green chutney and kashundi, steamed in banana leaves, and served with steamed rice. However, it was too salty for me.
I ended my journey with filter coffee panna cotta, cardamom and milk cake crumble with salted caramel sauce and coffee ice cream. I am sure this would have been inspired from the next door restaurant, Sarvanaa Bhavan’s filter coffee.
As the year 2014 is coming to an end next month, I am already eagerly waiting for Rahul Verma’s list of memorable food trips of 2014, so that I can relish throughout the year.