Pan Indian cuisine
In a recently renovated Bikaner House
Atmospherics: Suddenly, the hottest new property in the capital is Bikaner House which all of us knew as the bus adda for Jaipur. Chor Bizarre is the lone restaurant in the premises and I must say, it is a fabulous fit in the newly refurbished surroundings. The funky collection of owner Rohit Khattar’s bric-a-brac and photographs of a bygone era fit in with the classic heritage surroundings of the building, and the menu, though not specific to Rajasthan, traverses the entire country. Expect an evolving menu, but it is likely that the Kashmiri part, though about a third of the entire offering, will continue to be the talking point. One reason is because the Asaf Ali Road flagship has been synonymous with Kashmiri food; the other is that there is a seamless blend of the cuisines of the two main communities in the Valley.
Table talk: First, the stars. The roghan josh (Rs 650) is fabulous and made by the Pandit waza from Kishtwar (the home of all the best Pandit cooks), with a touch of asafoetida and no onions or garlic. Don’t miss this one. The dum aloo (Rs 495) is also spot on authentic, though there are better versions in the NCR: in this one, the spices had not reached the centre of the potatoes because they had not been pricked with a needle. The third surprise was the Jaipuri bhindi (Rs 450). Inch-long strips of the vegetable had been sprinkled over with besan and aamchur and deep-fried for total crispness. You won’t find a version like this one anywhere else in the city. On the whole, the meaty dishes are the winners and the vegetarian ones lag behind. Nihari gosht (Rs 650) is expertly made, with hours of simmering so that the gravy is thick, rich and fragrant with spices. Rara gosht (Rs 650) on the other hand, used onions and tomatoes reduced with mutton mince for the gravy and the pieces of mutton were tender.
Plus and minus: the Asaf Ali Road flagship has become a city icon, where foreign tourists and businessmen were taken for authentic Indian food and funky interiors in between Old and New Delhi. Bikaner House has its work cut out already, being centrally located. Plenty of parking and no need to rub shoulders with passengers of the buses that now depart from a location next door.
Must try: Palak patta chaat; haakh, rajmah
Food: 3.50; Service: 3.50; Décor: 3.50
Bikaner House, Ground floor, Pandara Road, India Gate
Credit cards accepted; alcohol licence awaited
Timings: 12.30 to 3.30pm; 7.30 to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 2,200