April 19, 2014
Gappe Gol Hain
By Aisha Bhattacharya
What do you do when you get a Gol Gappa craving these days? You, hunt for a safe place to eat it which invariably leads you to Haldiram’s or Bikanervala where you get this sanitized-sealed packet of gol gappas and an unappetizing bowl of vaguely sweet & sour water. The joy is missing. Like we Dilliwalahs say, “Feel nahi aati!” (It doesn’t feel the same). The more adventurous types eat off the roadside, always a little sceptical and asking, “Bhaiyya, Bisleri ka paani hai na?” (It’s Bisleri water right?)
Doesn’t feel quite right… does it? Fear no more, the soon-to-be-officially launched Desiya Cafe has just the thing for you. Located in the heart of the Bohemian hub in south Delhi – Hauz Khas
Village aka HKV (shorter version for Social Media Convenience) Desiya Cafe is the first building when you exit the fort or the last one before you enter the fort. Located on the ground floor is Desiya Express which serves Indian street food in a hygienic way while still maintaining the roadside ‘feel’ of it. As of now, they only have the ground floor open which seats about 12 – 15 people at best. There is a long running table along the wall where you can stand or sit. An open kitchen is behind it so you can see your food being prepared in front of you. The chairs are rather comfortable and don’t make you want to get up. The first floor is still being done and will have the Desiya Express menu plus an add-on Dining menu. This restaurant is owned by Jackpot Ventures who have the already well known Turkish and Lebanese restaurant ‘Faarsi’, also in HKV.
I was lucky enough to be invited by the Corporate General Manager, Ankush Myint for a preview of the place and I have to say I was rather impressed by the spread he arranged for me.
Having previously worked in HKV, I know exactly what the Gol Gappa craving is like. I would run to Evergreen 9in Green park Market) and eat insipid ones just to feel better. It never quite worked out well. So imagine my excitement when the first thing to arrive was ‘Gol Gappas’!! I was given 3 atta and 3 sooji ones (which I replaced with atta), a sweet tamarind flavour water, a tamarind chutney, the typical stuffing of cubed boiled potatoes and boiled kabuli chana and my favourite sour water (which I find always tastes like jaljeera). The Gol gappas were huge and that is intentional said Ankush. Apparently till the water doesn’t drip down the side of your mouth it doesn’t feel like the ‘real thing’. This is a tried and tested theory! The entire ensemble is well presented and tasted like it should. A spicy, sour, sweet and crunchy mouthful of heaven.
Next, was the Mumbai staple – Vada Pav. Admittedly I have never been a huge fan but, this one hits the right spot! Butttery bun with a Vada that melts in your mouth, add a dash of the garlic and jeera chutney and you’re good to go! I didn’t just taste, I ate the whole thing. To wash this down I was presented with two beverages – a Kala Khatta Sharbat and a Masala Shikanjvi. The Kala khatta sharbat was a tad bit too sweet for me and when I suggested they add more chaat masala to it, Ankush said that customers had complained that by the time they reach the parking lot, “Pet mein gur gur hoti hai” (stomach starts to rumble) So the executive decision taken was to leave it a little sweet. The Masala Shikanjvi on the other hand, had the right mix of flavours. Nice and fizzy with the right balance of chatpata flavours that reminds one of the masala shikanjvi in Modi Nagar. Yes, ‘That’ one! I found if you sip these two drinks together, you get this wonderful kick of a sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, fizzy liquid.
I was then served a kebab platter with Ajwaini Fish Tikka, Kalmi Kebab and Bhatti Tangri. All three were good standard kebab fare available in Delhi. The fish was exceptionally good, so you must try that if you enjoy fish.
At this point I couldn’t eat another morsel but Ankush insisted I had to try one last thing – Night watchman ka Chicken in a Bun. The name sounded odd but greed and curiosity got the better of me and I succumbed to this onslaught of delicious food. The dish is essentially a buttery hot dog bun slit on top and filled with a wetish spicy chicken keema and topped with some mint chutney. So good. So so good. The story behind this dish is about a Night Watchman who would make this during his shift and a lot of people in 24 hour work environments would come to his thela for a midnight snack. He reported made quite a packet selling this invention. The chicken keema is done Rahra style, well cooked and flavoursome.
In a nutshell Desiya has a big menu with quick service, food that tastes as good as it looks and quirky interiors that make you smile. It recreates the charm of Chandni chowk on your palette while keeping you safely ensconced in a bubble in South Delhi. I would think they will offer stiff competition to Dhaba by Claridges. So, the next time you’re wandering around in Hauz Khas village craving street food, be sure to pop in for a visit and you shall not leave disappointed.
Price for 2: 800 (without alcohol)
To speak to them call: +91-8130200444
To visit them go to: Desiya Cafe, 50-E, Ground Floor, Hauz Khas Village
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.