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Weekend foodlog

November 9, 2009 2 comments

Hi Lanka Map Hi Lanka

Friday evening, on a whim, we landed up at Hi Lanka, the newly opened Sri Lankan restaurant in town. Our intent was to sample the Kothu Roti’s advertised in the menu.  Long back, while I was working at a project site in Tamil Nadu, Kothu Porotta used to be my staple dinner. Shredded fluffy porottas cooked with chicken, spices and curry leaves served with a small bowl of chicken gravy, it was a wholesome meal. I hoped to relive that nostalgia.

Hi Lanka was a one room shop front located on Smt. Santosh Yadav Marg, near NH8, bordering Sector-31. Our hearts sank when we saw a “government approved” drinking place next door. However, having come such a long way, we decided to proceed with dinner.

There was a plastic table for 3 in the open. Inside, the Sri Lankan Tamil chef slogged at a shiny, brand new steel kitchen counter. The menu didn’t offer much choice except Kothu Roti and String Hopper (Idiyappam). We ordered vegetarian and non vegetarian Kothu Roti’s and spent 40 minutes watching patrons of the drinking place before dinner was served. Quantity was substantial. The tomato and grated coconut salad tasted nice. Vegetarian Kothu Roti had a tonne of Soya and smelled of egg. Non vegetarian had shredded chicken and finely chopped, cabbage, carrots and beans. It tasted bland. No comparison to the superlative Kothu Porotta of Tamil Nadu, not even a pale shadow if it. A complete letdown.

Visiting restaurants promising exotic cuisine, especially in cosmopolitan cities like Gurgaon is risky. These restaurants have to cater to a motley crowd. The original recipes are therefore tampered with and watered down to produce a fit for all product, which lacks the flavour and aroma of the authentic dish. Something similar seems to have happened in Hi Lanka. The Kothu Roti, although similar in form totally lacked the spice and vigour of the original.

Check out Hi Lanka, only if you must.

To offset the fiasco of Friday evening, we visited the Rajasthani counter at Dilli Haat for lunch. It is completely vegetarian, but have countless choices. The food is supposedly authentic. We took Special Rajasthani Thali which came with Bajra and Missi roti, dal-baati, churma ki laddu, ker-sangri, gatte ki sabzi, rice, kadhi, side dishes and achaar, all for Rs.150.00. The makki ki roti and sarson ka saag cost us Rs.50.00. Drowned it all with kulhad chai (Rs.20.00). The radiance of a satiated belly shone brightly on our faces.

Dilli Haat, as I indicated in a previous blog, is an exhibition centre showcasing arts and crafts from different states of India. Apart from the close to 200 stalls devoted to handicrafts, utensils, paintings and clothes, it also has 20 odd counters serving regional cuisine from different parts of India. This time around, we spotted counters of Awadh and Orissa. A repeat performance? maybe later.

Categories: Gastronomique

Dilli Haat

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Last weekend we went to Dilli Haat. That’s where I go when I want to add some variety to my daily fare. Incidentally you could also browse through artifacts from different states as well. Looking at the place, small brick stalls selling anything from bronze sculptures and Pashmina shawls to cushions and straw mats, one would never imagine that it is located on top of a sewage system.

Anyways, one section of Dilli Haat is devoted to food from various states of India. And the one I patronize most is Wazwan, the Kashmiri stall selling Gushtaba, Kokar Kanti, Tabak Maaz and Kahwah – saffron and almond flavoured Kashmiri tea. Gushtaba, minced lamb meatball in yogurt based gravy goes well with steamed rice. Kokar Kanti, succulent, fried cubes of chicken in a thick paste of tomato and chilly is absolutely divine. Wash it all down with a hot glass of Kahwah and all you can think of is a refreshing open air siesta.

The Rajasthani stall also stocks some delightful fare. My wife, who is a devout vegetarian as usual made a beeline for that one.

Anyways, all I can do now is, “burp” and sink into spicy reminiscence.

Categories: Gastronomique