By Prakriti Bhat
Shahpur Jat is gaining recognition because of the numerous boutiques mushrooming in that area which spoil you for choice. Till a few years ago, it was not a well known place but these glamorous boutiques have definitely made it a popular shopping destination. It is common to spot people hopping from one outlet to another. It is close to Hauz Khas metro station. Amongst these clusters of boutiques lies a quaint little café atop a spiraling flight of stairs-The Potbelly Rooftop Café. It is not easy to find the place but a visit is worth the effort.
Pooja Sahu, the owner, used to work as a designer. Bored of her job, she decided to open a café which would bring the flavours of Bihar to the common Delhite’s plate. Therefore, she picked up her mother’s recipes and The Potbelly Rooftop Café was opened in Shapur Jaat four years ago. The place received a positive response from people. “We wanted to call it ‘Petoo’s’ originally but then settled for ‘Potbelly’. Our main focus is quality food. It was totally an experimental venture but the response has been amazing.” About 2 months ago, another branch in Chanakyapuri was opened owing to its grand success at the original branch.
The café is situated on the fourth floor for which you have to climb an arduous set of narrow stairs. The moment you reach the top floor, you will realize that all those stairs weren’t for nothing. The eclectic decor will sap away all that tiredness. The interiors are vibrant and homely. The makers seem to have put a lot of attention into even the smallest details. The chairs are a plain white decorated with different colours of cloth or strings. The lanterns are made with glasses which hold the bulbs and are decorated with colourful strings. The napkin holders are made of terracotta with simple designs painted on them. The walls are adorned by empty frames with beautiful and aesthetic designs. The ceiling is not a regular white washed wall but a bamboo-like structure which give the place a very rustic but charming appeal.
The place serves Bihari cuisine. The menu offers regional starters like Pakora Basket, Sabudana Basket, Baggia Basket, Keema Ghoogni Fry and Pothia Machli Fry. Main course offerings like Litti Chokha, Maithili Thali and Dehati Fish n Chips are popular here. Most of the dishes are served in terracotta bowls. Pakora Basket has an assortment of Pakoras with green chutney and tomato chutney. Baggia Basket is a very unique dish. These are rice flour pockets stuffed with spicy Chana Daal. The surface is a bit hard but not much. It can easily be cut using a spoon or fork. They are served with red and green chutney. This dish comes in two terracotta bowls joined by a handle. The presentation is excellent and has a rural touch to it.
Litti Chokha is probably the only Bihari dish most have us have heard of. The crust was scrumptious but the stuffing was a bit sticky. It is served along with Chana Daal, spicy mashed potato and mashed brinjals. Fish and chips of English origin are given a Bihari tadka with Dehati Fish n Chips. Also, don’t miss the Keema Aloo Chop. It is a combination of minced meat and potato cutlets served on a bun with chutneys and mouthwatering Sabudana Pakoras. The Golmirch Chicken is a meal in itself. The Chicken cooked in lip-smacking gravy is served with the good old Lachha Parathas. Their Mirch Masala lemonade is the perfect thirst quencher and the Oreo Shake is a super-hit with the customers. The staff is quite gracious and the prices are economical.
The Potbelly Rooftop Café stands apart due to its quirky theme. Delhi offers cuisines from all over India and the world. There are several Chinese, European, Mediterranean, Italian restaurants which open the window to global cookeries. Also, there are restaurants serving South Indian, Maharashtrian, Bengali, Rajasthani, Parsi, Punjabi and Gujarati food. However, very rarely do we find a place that serves kosher Bihari food and that too at a nominal rate. Our knowledge of Bihari cuisine is usually restricted to only Litti Chokha. Potbelly Rooftop Café has brought out this long forgotten cuisine to life by not falling prey to foreign influences and sticks only to Bihari food.
A Chinese or Italian restaurant can easily attract crowd because people are constantly looking for global cuisines to try in the city. There’s a famous saying, “ghar ki murgi daal barabar”. But to open a place like this and embrace our own culture is something that ought to be appreciated. More places like these should be established to whip out the lesser known traditional delicacies. Their branch in Chanakyapuri is probably more accessible than the one in Shahpur Jaat. However, those stairs at Shahpur Jaat are a great way to boost your appetite!
Location- 116 C, 4th floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi,
Cost for 2- 800 (approx)
Contact no.- 01141612048, 9811122764