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From Kulchas to Chaamps To Aam Papad: Eating My Way Through Amritsar

THE BLOG

From Kulchas to Chaamps To Aam Papad: Eating My Way Through Amritsar

Day 2.

This article was first published in Huffpost. Here is the link – https://tinyurl.com/y9c9cgx5

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Punjabi food, like its culture, is very hard to ignore especially in Amritsar, the golden heart of the land of butter and celebration. The flavours are just like its people, loud and in your face but in a very good way. We went on a food adventure spanning over three days in the land of the gurus and stuffed our faces with the most beautiful, delicious and rich dishes we could find on the streets of Amritsar. Read about day 1 here.

Day 2

On the second day of our food expedition, we woke up to the aroma of deep fried imarti. It was the day of Baisakhi, which marks the start of the Sikh New Year along with the formation of the Khalsa Panth. And sweets are a hallmark of the celebration.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Pooris for breakfast

Breakfast meant sampling wares from two Amritsar mainstays, starting with Kanhaiya Lal on Lawrence Road, where we sampled a fried poori made of maida and atta (in a 70:30 proportion) stuffed with a little dal pitthi. The poori is served with sweet and tangy aloo lounji, chane ki sabzi, another savoury aloo sabzi and carrot pickles. I also tried another interesting dish called satpura—a puffed pastry (with seven layers) filled with dal ki pitthi, and served with lounji and chane. Incidentally, a similar dish called the Japani samosa is available in Old Delhi’s Manohar Dhaba. The difference is that this “samosa” is filled with mashed potatoes and served with chane and lauki achaar.

Amritsar changed my conception of the ‘nutri kulcha’ and showed me what the Delhi version was missing.

We then moved on to Kanha Sweets that serves pooris that are quite similar to Kanhaiya Lal’s—the only thing missing is the savoury aloo sabzi. Kanha Sweets also sell aam pickle, stuffed matthi and besan matthi (this last is a boon for those with a gluten allergy).

A note on aam papad

Among the most enticing of all the places I visited was Lubhaya Ram, famous for aam papad. They have two outlets—the first one is a proper shop with jars and packed boxes of aam papad and the other one is a cart, right next to the DAV girls’ college.

The owner of the shop, a big-time foodie has all the information on the best eating joints in Amritsar. The way he makes the aam papad platter is a sight to see—small pieces of all the different varieties of aam papad and anar goli are placed on a plate and then given a squeeze of lemon. Next comes a sprinkling of a 12-spice mix, white salt and black salt. The taste is simply out of the world—sweet and tangy at the same time. You can see why Amritsar needs this tasty digestive bit in a corner after you have sampled the heavy deliciousness of Kanhaiya Lal.

The breadbasket of India

Amritsar is sometimes called the Breadbasket of India. I tried kulcha at three places in the city—Ashok Kulche Wala at Ranjit Avenue, All India Famous Kulcha Wala at Chungi, and Kulwant Kulcha Wala near Golden Temple.

But first let me explain how an Amritsari kulcha is unique.

The first rule is that each layer of the dough is spread with ghee. The second is that the kulcha is always stuffed with spices ranging from pomegranate seeds to raw coriander seeds. The layered dough is filled with a mixture of aloo or paneer, or anything else and then put in the tandoor, where it gets crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A generous helping of butter is applied over the kulchas, which are devoured with chana, spring onion and amchur chutney. The chutney is a mix of tamarind, green mangoes, spring onion and spices. Out of the three kulcha places.

The uniqueness of the chicken at Beera is in the softness rather than the crispiness that’s sought after elsewhere in north India.

I found Ashok’s to be the best kulcha in terms of authenticity and taste.

At Ashok, for the mix kulcha, mashed potatoes are combined with cauliflower mix, paneer mix, coriander seeds, fenugreek leaves, black pepper and other spices. Then are added yogurt, ghee, red chilies and salt. This combination is stuffed in the kulcha, which is placed in the oven to cook. Once it emerges, it is slathered with butter and is ready to be savoured.

At All India Famous Kulcha, the pre-made mixture is simply stuffed in the dough and cooked in the tandoor. While all India and Kulwant served crisper kulchas, Ashok’s spices elevated the dish. Ashok has been in business for 36 years. The shop is open from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Next on our agenda was the bija kulcha (the word bija in Punjabi means wet). Iqbal our food guide in the city took us to a place called Pappi di Hatti. The yeast kulchas (bo kulchas) are dipped in chickpeas topped with chopped onion, juliennes of ginger, green chutney, and amla pickles. The kulcha soaks the gravy of chickpeas and becomes soft and flavourful. The wooden containers in which the chickpeas are kept are 15 years old.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Being a Delhiite, I have tasted cuisines from all over India in this multicultural city. Thus, I’d already sampled a “nutri kulcha” at Shalimar Bagh in Delhi when I decided to see how Amritsar’s version compared. Amritsar changed my conception of the dish and showed me what the Delhi version was missing. In Delhi, it was a normal kulcha with butter and soya granules mixed with spices. Here in Amritsar, the nutri was tawa-fried with capsicum and onions in spinach gravy. A fried piece of paneer was crushed over the nutri and the entire concoction was served with butter. It tasted heavenly. I had nutri also with bhaturas, a unique and delish combination.

Desi hot dog

Having tried the famed chaat in Varanasi, Lucknow and Delhi, I was not that excited to try the chaat in Amritsar. However, Brijwasi is everyone’s favourite go-to go chaat place. The family that migrated from Mathura still serves chaat and other dishes without onion and garlic. They have an interesting desi-style hot dog—the footlong bun is fried in vanaspati and then smeared with methi chutney or saunth on one side and green chutney on the other. A single piece of crushed tikki makes the filling. Interestingly at Brijwasi, they don’t add sweet or green chutney on the papri or bhalle unless expressly asked to do so.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Soul food

Since I was there on the day of Baisakhi, the harvest festival of Punjab, even the long queues at the gates of the Golden Temple couldn’t deter me from seeking the blessings for an auspicious year.

The roti-making machine is said to make 6000-9000 rotis in an hour. Men and women put ghee over the rotis to keep them soft.

Another big draw is the langar, an important part of Sikh tradition, where anyone can walk in and eat the simple and soulful food. It is a community kitchen where the followers sit in a row and are fed by volunteers who come in to do “seva”. As you enter, on the left hand side is the roti-making machine which they say makes 6000-9000 rotis in an hour. Men and women put ghee over the rotis to keep them soft. On the right hand side is the dishwashing unit—volunteers washing the soiled plates and spoons. At the rear is the main cooking area, where the food is cooked. I have never seen such a big cauldron in my life. There is no chef—the food is cooked by volunteers and sewadars. And what comes out is delicious dal that one can taste nowhere else. On special occasions, kheer and halwa is made for the followers. This institution is responsible for feeding hundred of homeless people in the city.

Chaamps and chicken

Now, one of the food explorers in our group was a vegetarian. So, before moving to the popular Beera Chicken, we stopped at Hathi Gate at Lovely Chaamp. The chaamps, made up of maida and soya are given different shapes, marinated in different spices and then grilled over charcoal. The spices are similar to those that are used in meat preparation. The most interesting out of all the soya champs was the completely veg fish champ—a fish-shaped patty made of soya and spices that are used in making Amritsari champ. (In Delhi, we have our own versions for vegetarians—deep-fried kurkure champs and Afghani ones with white creamy sauce). I loved the way creativity is inculcated in food. The Amritsari folks do not compromise on the taste and meaty texture even in vegetarian food.

Next up was Beera Chicken on Majeetha Road, where several customers ordered their food from inside their car and ate there too—Delhi-style! The shop has a sitting section too, though. Balbir, the owner, manages the restaurant, while his son takes care of the grill counter.

The chicken is first marinated in secret spices, half cooked and finally grilled straight over a griddle. One can also ask for tandoori chicken—the same chicken is cooked in a clay tandoor.

The uniqueness of the chicken is in the softness rather than the crispiness that’s sought after elsewhere in north India. It tasted heavenly. The other recommended dish at Beera is keema naan. Minced mutton is stuffed in the dough and cooked inside the tandoor. Loads of delicious butter is spread over it. While I am usually a little more careful about my butter consumption, in Punjab you gotta do as the Punjabis do. The naan is served with chutney, onions and a mutton curry that is so delicious that I slurped it straight from the bowl.

We ended our second day with Prakash which was a big disappointment. I tried magaj (brain curry), chaamp and mutton tikka. Apart from the champ (minced meat deep-fried in ghee) the other two dishes were nothing to write home about. When we visited the shop construction for a bar section was in full swing. Maybe it was just a bad day for them or maybe they have moved away from their roots—who knows?

Unable to eat a morsel more, we ended the night with digestive tablets, hoping for a grand day three to end our food expedition on a high note.

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Mister Chai

 Mister Chai

By Anubhav Sapra

While you have been scrolling through your instagram feed this monsoon, I am sure the photos of Pakoda, samosa, bun maska and chai have been popping up as the rains envelope India. It does  make, one yearn for some spicy and warm food. My own all time favourite monsoon snack has been roasted corn or bhutta with lemon and masala.

With snacks, a cup of regular local milk chai or cutting chai with different spice flavours- elaichi, cinnamon or a simple masala chai makes the small difference between a chai on a regular day and the one on a rainy day. The street side tea served in a traditional glass or kulhad with steam coming out of it is the only thing that has been able to encompass the wet and cozy feeling you yearn for .

The monsoon menu at Mister Chai, the tea restaurant at Shangrila’s Eros hotel is trying to take this feeling from the street side and serve it to you while you look out at the damp roads from your own luxurious cocoon.The menu is beautifully curated by Chef Neeraj Tyagi keeping intact the local flavours but like always with a twist.

Our monsoon journey began with a cutting chai served in a traditional chai ki tapri. The rusks in a small tin accompanied the tea. The idea of dipping the rusks into the tea to soak the flavours is a classic street thing across India.

Next, I tried the spicy keema and potato pakodas served with sweet and tangy chutney. The usual bread pakoda is stuffed with mashed potatoes and keema. The assorted pakoda platter served on a toy cart had aloo, paneer, palak and mirchi pakodas. The best part of it all was that it was not oily. The chef revealed that the pakodas are fried twice so that it doesn’t absorb much oil.

The highlight of the monsoon menu was the Kulcha. The traditional amristari aloo kulchas , served on a wooden taco stand were filled with pulled jackfruit and goat’s cheese. I am sure it will taste delicious with pulled pork as well. The texture of jackfruit added a meaty texture and compliments with the softness of aloo kulchas. Really loved the combination!

Some of the other dishes on the monsoon menu are bhutta(steamed and char grilled served with Cajun spice, herb butter and lime ) Akuri Toast (Parsi scrambled egg), and the popular delhi’s  special street food – Ram ladoo.

The monsoon menu is available every day at Mister Chai from 11 am to 9 pm till 31st August.

Address: Lobby Level, Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi, 19 Ashoka Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001

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Utterly Butterly Punjabi: Eating My Way Through Amritsar- Day 1

This blog was first published in Huffpost. Here is the link – http://www.huffingtonpost.in/anubhav-sapra/utterly-butterly-punjabi-eating-my-way-through-amritsar_a_23033274/

THE BLOG

Utterly Butterly Punjabi: Eating My Way Through Amritsar

Day 1.

By Anubhav Sapra, Founder, Delhi Food Walks

Punjabi food, like its culture, is very hard to ignore especially in Amritsar, the golden heart of the land of butter and celebration. The flavours are just like its people, loud and in your face but in a very good way. We went on a food adventure spanning over three days in the land of the gurus and stuffed our faces with the most beautiful, delicious and rich dishes we could find on the streets of Amritsar.

Day 1

Last time when I visited Amritsar, I made it a point to make Kesar da dhaba my first food stop. Let me tell you, I have been exploring street food since my school days—so much so that I made a profession out of it—but the excitement entering this old gem that was established in 1916 gave me an adrenaline rush like no other joint ever has.

       The one thing I learnt is that even though many food joints will look modern from the outside but the cuisine is still Amritsari at heart.

As you enter, the table and benches are lined up; there is another sitting area opposite the road where air coolers offer some respite from the heat. The dhaba has seen the ownership of four generations of the same family and a huge kitchen has developed over time with a separate section for frying and boiling of the kali dal, the one thing that made the legacy of this place what it is today. The original brass degh used by the first owners is still in use to boil the kali dal. The dal is boiled for 12 hours intermittently and stirred by the cook to check the consistency. Once the dal is boiled, it is passed on to next section where it is given tadka in ghee with onion and spices.

I ordered the parantha thali (₹245 ) which comes with two ghee-laden lachcha paranthas, kali dal with ghee floating over it, chole and raita with big pieces of boondi, onion and pickles. It’s not a dish that I would recommend to the faint hearted—like everything else in Amritsar. You should bring an appetite to rival the years of culinary habits that developed to feed the warriors of India.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Next, we stopped at Giani Punjabi Lassi. A lassi shop that has been in existence since 1927, it has pictures of film actors and the wrestler Khali devouring the big steel glass of lassi. Dhurandar Singh, the owner of the shop claimed that Khali had six glasses of his makhan-topped lassi. Being a lassi fan, I have tasted lassi across different places in India from Varanasi to Mathura (lassi connoisseuring is the next big thing after wine). The one we tried at Giani’s was a unique peda lassi. Four-six pedas are crushed in a brass container that has been in use since 1927. It is then with the help of a wooden blender churned to separate butter from the peda and the leftover water is used to make lassi with fresh yoghurt. Once the lassi is made, the butter is added back to the lassi. It was a different experience, and perfectly. symbolic of the land of butter and ghee. A glass of lassi is yours for ₹75 and the shop is opposite Regency Cinema.

My food guide, Gur Iqbal, a final year student of Khalsa College took us to the telephone exchange where street food carts are lined up selling tawa dishes. We stopped at Bau Paneer Bhurji Shop (also known as Tara Chand Paneer Bhurji). The place has only two dishes on the menu—paneer bhurji and sandwich. Paneer bhurji is a scrambled paneer fried in butter with spices. Firstly, 70-80 gm of butter is added in a pan; into this go chopped onions, tomato, ginger. Now, the secret thick red paste, a mix of chick pea flour, red chillies and garlic is mixed and finally a big slice of paneer is crushed into the mixture. What comes out is a delicious, buttery paneer bhurji to be devoured with a slice of white bread and chutney.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Another dish, a revelation of sorts, was the sandwich. It comprises a slice of bread deep-fried in Amul yellow butter. Over this, channe is spread and with it slices of paneer, onions, tomato which is then fried in butter. It was again as if eating just butter. It was also served with green coriander chutney. I met this one person who claimed to have been eating the same bhurji for the last 25 years and no the flavours had never changed.

Day 1 of our journey ended in the land of butter and celebration, making us ache not with heartburn but a taste for more.

Finally we reached at King Kulfa cart owned by Prakash at Katra Jaimal Singh. Kulfa can best be described as a layered dessert. It has phirni-rabri kulfi-gond qateera (gond qateera itself has no taste, but is popular among Amritsaris in summer because of its cooling properties) faluda and is topped with rabri, sugar syrup and kewra. It’s sweet no doubt about it but it is one of those things that you cannot miss on a food pilgrimage in the land of milk and makkhan.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Walking down further we reached Katra Ahluwalia, also famously known as Jalebi-wala chowk, because of Guru Ram Das Jalebi. The shop is famous for hot and crisp syrupy jalebis and soft gulab jamuns. What makes it special is the small pieces of jalebi fried in ghee and dipped in sugar syrup.

As the evening progressed, it was time to sate the carnivore in me. We reached the legendary Makhan Fish Shop, which started life as a roadside cart in 1962 but is now a full-fledged air-conditioned restaurant with a beer bar next to it. We ordered a plate of fried fish—a simple but truly delectable dish which was first coated in a batter made of chickpea flour with Ajwain and deep fried in mustard oil. The one thing I learnt is that even though many food joints will look modern from the outside but the cuisine is still Amritsari at heart. I also tried mutton tikka with bo wale kulcha (bo in Punjabi means smelly). But don’t worry, it’s not really smelly. Kiran who runs an Instagram micro blog by the name “wakhrapunjab” informed me that it was the taste of yeast in it that gave it its name. It really went well with succulent pieces of mutton.

I got to know from the rickshaw puller about another Makhan Fish Shop on Lawrence Road. I went there as well the same evening so that the taste could be compared. The shop started a couple of years back after the current owner returned from abroad. The fish was double fried with a thick batter of chickpeas. At the other shop in Majitha Road, it was lightly flavoured and smelt-in-the-mouth soft. I was not that impressed with the Lawrence Road shop. It might be because he saw us clicking pictures that he over-fried it. Next time, I will make it a point to visit without the camera.

And that is how Day 1 of our journey ended in the land of butter and celebration, making us ache not with heartburn but a taste for more.

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Cooking with ITC Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta

How many times have you looked at fast moving pizzas and pastas and decided that they are unhealthy Or Let’s count the times when you have looked at the roti and decided it’s boring? We at DFW wondered that with the time we have spent out on the streets exploring food should have given us some skills in the kitchen and maybe a little inspiration too. So, instead of a food joint that we found, we are telling you a recipe!!

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Since we wanted to get all the nutritional benefit we could, we picked out the Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta as our base for the most wholesome goodness in a mouthful that we could gather. Aashirvaad leverages its institutional strength of sourcing wheat from the finest wheat growing regions of India combined with the traditional ‘chakki-grinding’ method to lend the chapatis a softer texture and a superior taste or like in our case to the “ HOMEMADE PASTA”. We chose multigrain because the extra fiber makes the food easier to digest making it heart healthy. The extra protein in the atta helps build strength; vitamins build immunity and the extra fiber aids digestion.

So here is the recipe and no you do not need that Pasta Machine 😉

Ingredients:

a)Pasta

  • 2cup Aashirvaad Multigrain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs  (You can substitute the eggs for half cup semolina flour(sooji) )
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 10-20 ml water
  1. b) Sauce
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 10-20 gm butter
  • Half cup Tomato puree or 4 tomatoes diced finely with seeds
  • 6-7 finely chopped garlic
  • Salt  to taste
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 slice cheese (regular American)IMG_9641 (1)

Process :

  1. Mix all the the ingredients of the pasta. Knead out a dough and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. While the dough rests, On a medium flame add the oil and butter.
  3. As soon as the butter melts, add the garlic to the pan and make sure that butter doesn’t brown. Keep stirring so that the garlic doesn’t burn.IMG-20170616-WA0007
  4. If using chopped tomatoes, after putting them in break them down and add half a cup of water little by little until they reach a sauce like consistency. If using the tomato puree, cook it down till the smell of the tomato leaves the pan (if persistent, try squeezing half a lemon)
  5. Add your condiments once you are happy with the consistency of the sauce and switch off the gas.
  6. Meanwhile boil 8 cups of salted waterIMG-20170616-WA0002
  7. Roll out your pasta dough with a pin into a thin sheet. Use extra flour to dust the area and the dough to make it easier. The dough should be spread out till it is as thin as possible.
  8. Cut the dough in long strands with the help of a knife and dust the strands with flour once more.
  9. Boil the pasta in the salted water for 8-10 minutes till al-dente.IMG-20170616-WA0005 (1)
  10. Use the time to heat your sauce and add mayonnaise.
  11. Add the pasta from the water directly to the saucepan and half a ladle of the salted water along with it.
  12. Mix well till the sauce coats the pasta on low flame. Add the cheese by breaking it down to give a creamier consistency,
  13. Serve hot with extra cheese if you want some.

And that sums up our cooking adventure with ITC Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta. Have you tried any recipes that you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below.IMG-20170616-WA0003

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CHINA KITCHEN- HYATT REGENCY

CHINA KITCHEN- HYATT REGENCY

By Prakriti Bhat

Hyatt has been serving its patrons since years. One of the reasons people keep coming back is their unmatched hospitality and high quality service which makes every experience at Hyatt truly memorable. Luxury at its best seems to be their motto. With aesthetic interiors and a genial staff, Hyatt has the best of everything, be it their restaurants, gym or swimming pool. Their Chinese restaurant, The China Kitchen recently launched their new menu and it is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

DSC_0005-2Now a lot of people claim to be aficionados when it comes to Chinese cuisine. Our taste buds are accustomed to the spicy chowmein and chilli potatoes from the local Chinese van, since childhood. But sadly, that isn’t the true taste of China. Chinese dishes cooked by the local vendors are laden with oil and Indian spices which led to coinage of the term Chinjabi, meaning a hybrid of Chinese and Punjabi cooking techniques and flavours. However, a trip to The China Kitchen will introduce you to authentic Chinese cuisine which will leave you mesmerized.

The interiors are very elegant and the soothing music sets the mood for an exquisite meal. Chef Jack Aw Yong brings the flavors of China to your plate with his expertise in the cuisine. Each table was set in a traditional Chinese way with a deep dish kept over a plate which could be used for keeping the chopsticks or discarded bones, etc. I started the meal with a unique mocktail prepared with a concoction of ginger, orange and mint. The overall flavour was a perfect harmony of all the three ingredients which actually have their own strong and distinct taste.

DSC_0024Among the appetizers, my favourite was definitely the Sichuan Chicken Salad. Long shreds of Chicken mixed in a spicy and savory Sichuan sauce is a great option to whet your appetite. Next, there was a round of several varieties of dimsums. Each of them had a thin (almost transparent) covering and was packed with a whole lot of filling. Both, the veg and non veg variants were equally pleasant. The Crab Claws are something that should not be missed. A crunchy exterior holds together the crabmeat which is brilliantly cooked. Try it with one of the 4 sauces present on each table; it makes for a great combo. Another favourite of mine were Shrimps rolled in Bell Peppers. Tender and succulent Shrimps wrapped in a blanket of bell peppers made for a great amalgamation of flavours and textures.

Crispy Prawn with sautéed veggies like spring onions and bell peppers is a task to cut through, but worth all the effort. The Chicken Puffs were exceptional in conception- minced Chicken stuffed in puff pastry dough. It was beautiful but I felt it to be a little bland and dry. The Main course included Noodles, Sticky rice, Stir fried pork and vegetables in Oyster sauce. Each of these dishes was cooked extremely well. The sauces were not overused and the chef ensured that none of the vegetables were overcooked. The pork, especially, was cooked brilliantly. Usually it is undercooked and the texture becomes chewy but the pork served here was quite soft; a welcome change. The Dessert platter included an array of toothsome delicacies like tarts, cigar rolls, fruits, Ice cream and chocolates. The coconut cigar rolls were irresistible.

Dining at China Kitchen is a great way for those uninitiated to the cuisine to get a glimpse of the real flavours of China. There’s more to Chinese food than just Soy sauce and Vinegar. Hop on this delectable ride to get a taste of the Orient!

Address- Hyatt Regency, Bhikaji Cama Place

Cost for two- Rs. 4500

Contact No.- 01126791234

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Kanshi Ram and Dinesh ke Chole Kulche

Kanshi Ram and Dinesh ke Chole Kulche

By Anubhav Sapra

Every Dellhite’s favourite street food is Chhole Kulche! It is one of the most celebrated go-to food of Delhi and everyone has a favourite local joint. Recently, on the recommendation of my foodie friend, Karan, I tried a very different kind of Kulche chole in Azadpur.

The name of the Chhole Kulche joint is Dinesh ke chole kulcha va garam pulav. Located next to Akash Cinema, Azadupur, it is easy to spot, because of the hordes of people surrounding his cart. The cart is owned by Dinesh and managed by his two brothers Kuldip and Raju. The family hails from Bareily in Uttar Pradesh and they have been into this business for the past 25 years.

image1-4This joint has a distinctive and exciting way of making kulchas. The kulchas are fried in butter with a red curry- a mixture of tomato, onion, garlic, ginger and capsicum. First, a generous amount of oil is put on a big pan and the red puree is added with a bunch of different spices. The kulchas are then fried over the spice mixture on the pan. A big spoon of butter is then spread over all the kulchas.

The kulchas are spicy and delicious, with a unique spicy punch that adds to the flavour. I ate few of them with out the chole. Infact, I asked him for double masala fry to make it more spicy. The kulchas are not for the weak hearted because of the amount of butter and spices that are added to the kulcha. However to soothe it down, a glass of boondi raita is  served at Dinesh’s stall.

After the initial conversation, Kuldip and Raju shared that the frying of kulcha is inspired from Pav bhaji where the buns are fried in a thick gravy with butter.  The joint is extremely inexpensive at only 30 rupees a plate.

After relishing the kulchas at Dinesh’s stall in Azadpur, I headed to his Uncle’s Chole Kulcha shop in Naraina. I was warned by Kuldip that it would be over by the time I reached. Keeping my fingers crossed I drove straight to his place, asking the security guards in the residential colony of E block, Naraina for his shop. The complete address is E-195, Naraina Vihar, Near Gyan Mandir Public School, Mobile number- 9211863472. By the time, I reached, the chhole at his stall were already over but on request I got a small portion of Chhole and a few kulchas.

image1-2Kanshi ram, who owns the shop, migrated to Delhi from Bareily at the age of 7 . When I visited his shop, he was listening to folk songs through his headphone, and sitting relaxed savouring tamatar pyaaz chutney with roti. I spoke to him at great length. His eyes were glistening with pride while he shared his story of hard work towards success that began from being a small street vendor to owning a ig shop.

Kanshi ram, also, has a similar way of making the kulchas. He puts butter over a big pan, fries the kulchas, spread a spoon of red coloured chutney, a mixture of garlic red chillies and tomatoes, and garnish it with grated paneer. However, it lacked the spicy punch that was evident in kulchas at  Dinesh’s stall. This is because of the butter and paneer that makes it less spicy compared to Dinesh’s kulche. Nonetheless, if you like your kulcha to be more spicy, you can ask for more chutney separately. A plate of Kulche Chhole costs Rs 40 at Kanshi Rams stall.

After having my fill, I bid adieu to Kanshi Ram and got the invitation at the same time to try the mutton he prepares, which he is going to cook sometime specially for me. I really liked the two joints and I hope they are able to expand across Delhi!

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Kuppies

Kuppies

I could easily envisage the constant mushrooming of bakeries in Delhi. Many home bakers have taken to the streets their products and commercialised its value. Due to rapid population growth, and rising foreign influence, baked goods are quickly gaining popularity among younger generations, contributing significantly to the growth trajectory of the baking industry. Khan Market and other upscale markets in South Delhi have some of the best bakers in Delhi.

However, there is a huge gap between the bakery products that are affordable and those that taste good. To fill this gap, you have several new ventures Kuppies being one. They have come up with Chocolate Chip Brownies.

Kuppies has a dedicated team led by founders Jeevash Vaid, successful entrepreneur and business owner, and Uni Vaid, trained culinary and pastry designer from USA. She was ranked among the top five bakers in New Delhi in 2014 and has received numerous award and accolades for baking Delhi’s best cheesecakes, cupcakes and other treats.

Recently, I got the chance to visit the place where these brownies are made i.e  in Noida, to get a first hand experience in what makes their brownies the best.

The brownies were delicious, gooey and molten at an extremely affordable retail price of Rs 18 per piece. For the very first time it is being launched in the Indian FMCG market.

IMG_20160802_115419_1470207556026The Brownie is made with Imported Real Dark Cocoa solids to give an intense chocolate hit burst in your mouth way ahead of any sweet or dessert snack available in the market. It is a cross between a cake and a soft cookie giving it a chewy mouth feel. The Brownie is moist in texture and oozes with chocolate and richness due to its smooth batter which even gives it a long shelf life.

Keeping in mind that majority of Indians are vegetarians (those who eat eggs are excluded) Kuppies brownie are 100% Vegetarian.

 Kuppies  supply to the largest national and international brands Café Coffee Day (India’s largest coffee house chain), Chaayos, Costa Coffee, Big Bazaar (India’s largest hypermarket chain), Wal Mart, Spenser, 24×7, Easy Day, Big Basket and more. supply to largest cafes in the country, CCD, Chhayos, Costa Coffe, throughout the country. Kuppies also has a FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification).

What sets them apart from other brownie brands in the market are-authenticity, taste and the packaging. Their from scratch production and original recipe has made this treat one of a kind.

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Veda and Djinggs, Gurgaon

Veda and Djinggs, Gurgaon

Ayushi Mathur

In the recent years, Delhi has been sensationalised by restaurants exhibiting innovative concepts around food and drinks. Even with the increase in popularity of modern food preparation techniques like molecular gastronomy, traditional Indian cuisine is highly appreciated. For almost a decade, Veda has been providing an exclusive Indian dining experience with flavours from across India woven into exquisite meals. Dining at Veda has been a wholesome experience brought to its patrons by the marvellous interiors, soothing classical music and matchless service. After a successful run in multiple cities, Veda is ready to take over Gurgaon with its all new concept of serving Indian and authentic Sichuan style Chinese cuisine under the same roof.

The people behind Veda are ready to unveil their new brainchild called Djinggs in the most popular food hub of Gurgaon – Sector 29. The interiors of the restaurant are designed by one of the most creative Indian designers Rohit Bal, keeping in mind both the cuisines offered. Half of the restaurant space is designed with huge mirrors with Indian carvings on them and the rest half is decorated with Chinese umbrellas. The ceiling of the restaurant is the main attraction, decorated with red lights and hangings of carved structures.

FullSizeRender-22The kitchen is divided into two sections, one for each type of cuisines offered, with specialised chefs. The Chinese dishes are a true reflection of Sichuan cooking with a liberal use of garlic, chilli peppers and green vegetables like Bok choy. The vegetarian dumplings are served with three varieties of sauces made with caramelised onions, garlic and hot peppers. Among the vegetarian dumplings, the spinach and bok choy dumpling and the mushroom dumpling are one of the best that the restaurant offers. Another stand out dish is the chilli garlic fish which is served with fried red peppers and parsley.

IMG_5619Veda is already known for its delectable Indian dishes. The Palak Patta chaat is the right amount of crunchy topped with curd, tamarind sauce and crispy sev. The Paneer Rumani Kebabs are rolls of thin sheets of cottage cheese that have a creamy texture with a wonderful smoky flavour. Achari fish tikka is a spicy well presented dish served with fresh vegetable salad, coriander and lemon. Curry leaves with fried vegetable chips are served with drinks that are a great alternative to regular snacks like nutcrackers and papad.

Overall, the restaurant has a majestic vibe with intricately done interiors, candle light and soulful music. Their concept of introducing Sichuan style of cooking worked truly well and it’s a great place to visit with friends and family to enjoy both types of cuisines. One visit is not enough to explore all the palatable delicacies offered at this restaurant. But it’s a highly recommended joint. I will definitely visit again.

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Take off Scarlet

Take off Scarlet, Punjabi Bagh

Ayushi Mathur

Punjabi bagh is becoming the new hub for exciting new cafes, restaurants and lounges. One extraordinary addition to the glamour of Punjabi bagh is a lounge called Take off Scarlet. Located on the Club Road, TOS is the ultimate destination for all the party lovers with its mouth-watering food, a huge dance floor and non-stop dance beats. Decorated with gold and bronze statues, TOS has interiors that will take you to the ancient Greek times.

TFullSizeRender-20ake off Scarlet has a rich multi cuisine menu and the first appetizer that I tried was the Murg Hazari Tikka. Juicy and tender chicken pieces marinated in yogurt with an undertone of Garam masala, the Murg Hazari Tikkas were absolutely scrumptious. Apart from Indian cuisine, TOS has a variety in Chinese, European and American appetizers. Among the Chinese, I tried the Chicken 65 which tasted similar to spicy preparations of Chicken served at other restaurants. Italian Julienne Salad was made with fresh crunchy vegetables with boiled spaghetti and whole olives. European dishes included Chicken Schnitzel, a fried chicken dish cooked in beaten eggs.

The vegetarian dishes were more innovative and flavourful. The appetizer that stood out was Delhi ke kebabs which were disks of dry kebabs filled with tangy yogurt. Delhi ke kebab is something I really enjoyed, as it tasted like sour cream and yogurt filled in crispy coating. Another distinguishing starter that was served was the Cheese Cigar rolls. Stuffed with a generous amount of cheese and onions served with hot mayo dip, the rolls definitely stood out. Bombay Vada Pav and Crispy lotus stem in honey chilly were also quite delicious.

FullSizeRender-19Along with food, TOS has a variety of inventive drinks and Hookah flavours to offer. The mocktails served included Pink Panther, a watermelon and pomegranate based cooler, Electric Lemonade that was made with blue lagoon, lemonade and mint and was served as a mystical blue drink. Tall hookahs with pipes that glow with LEDs add to the ambience and the experience. TOS has both outdoor and indoor seating with a perfectly sized dance floor for a wholesome party experience.

Address: 13-C, North West Avenue, Club road, Punjabi Bagh

Cost for two: Rs. 1000

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Smoke on Water

Smoke on Water, Connaught Place

Ayushi Mathur

For all those beer lovers out there, Delhi just got a lot more exciting. There’s no more a need to wait for your beer to be served to you, now you can tap your beer at Smoke on Water. With beer taps on every table, Smoke on Water is Delhi’s first Gastropub that lets you pour your own beer. All you need to do is sit at your table, choose the beer you want and pour it yourself whenever you want!

Smoke on Water has brought a concept of allowing the customers to refill their beers with a tap on their tables through the system of a rechargeable card allotted to them. The customers can add a certain amount of money in their cards and place it on an electromagnetic slot on their tables. This allows the customer to pay ahead and keep a track on the amount of beer consumed. All of this while grooving to the best rock music of all time.

Well, that’s not it. Smoke on Water is an ultimate stop for beer lovers as well as foodies. Ranging from the classic Buffalo wings to super hot peri peri wings, Smoke on Water offers a total of 16 different styles of chicken wings, and their hot wings are not for the weak-hearted.  Apart from chicken wings, their menu has a variety of delectable bite sized appetizers like Potato nuggets, Grilled Polenta with Feta cheese and fish fingers. The appetizing Chicken dumplings are made with minced chicken and hot barbeque sauce shaped into perfectly round dumplings. Another thing that stands out is the small disc shaped Fish cakes with Hollandaise sauce that look very appealing and taste even better.

IMG_5409For those not so fond of beer, the bar at Smoke on Water offers an assortment of unusual cocktails and mocktails. The desi pawwas like Kala Jamun, Sharabi Naareal and Masala maar ke are something you cannot miss. The Thai Mojito is a breath of fresh air as it gives the usual sweet mojito a twist with flavours like Kaffir lime and Thai ginger. The Chatpataka is a fun concoction of chaat masala, lime and kiwi. Sangrias and Long Island Iced Teas are also not typical at Smoke on Water, with flavours like Pomme-Basil and Strawberry-Mint available in Sangrias and Jalapenos in LIITs.

Overall, Smoke on Water can be considered one of the most exciting openings in Delhi this year and should definitely be visited at least once.

Address – D-26, Connaught Place

Cost for two – Rs. 1000