Food & Drink

NEHA IN WONDERLAND

A dream of a foodie is to discover new taste every day. Every now and then I would come across a name of a restaurant and it would pull me towards it like a magnet! This urge compelled me to check out South Campus restaurants that catered to students. The one that specially caught my attention was BYD. The Big Yellow Door looks every bit as clandestine as its name suggests. I was instantly drawn to it.

Getting off my auto in the scorching heat made me wonder if coming so far just to taste their 'Nachos with cheese' would actually be worth the effort. Anyway I put that thought aside the second I saw the slightly tilted 'Big Yellow Door' that was the entrance to the restaurant! It was more cute than cool. Entering the restaurant with heightening anticipation, I heaved a sigh of relief at being saved from the heat. As reputation goes, BYD always has a long queue for reservation. Fortunately not many wanted to brave the scorching sun that day and I easily got a table.

Securing my place in the restaurant, I looked around and every antique in the restaurant made me gasp at how beautifully decorated it was! The restaurant walls are beautifully carved in wood. They have been very smart with their decorations, painted beer bottles and stones enshrine their niches and walls. The dim light soothes you down instantly, creating a comfortable environment which you wouldn't want to leave.

After looking around and being awestruck I finally pulled the menu-card to check out the menu. Good lord, they had so much to offer!

Sticking to my predetermined choice, I ordered one Nachos with cheese and even though am not a sweet tooth, the drink that the couple next to me were sipping made me curious so I ordered an Oreo Shake. I also ordered Pasta in Basil Pesto sauce only accounting to the fact that it's my favourite and the price was very accommodating!

I placed my order and sipped water while listening to the music as I waited for my order.

I asked the waiter to serve everything together and so he did. To my surprise, it was more than two people could eat! Overwhelmed by the quantity of the food, I digged in carefully in my pasta and good heavens! It was the best Pesto sauce I had tasted in quite sometime. The only little disappointment was the absence of olives in my pasta. I optimized by taking the olives from my nachos in every bite, so it wasn't a deal breaker.

The Nachos looked right out of a food magazine and tasted even better. They were more appetizing than they looked.  I could barely finish half of both dishes when my stomach gave up, my tongue however could chuckle over the extraordinary taste of another plate full. Anyway I conceded and asked the waiter to pack the rest of my food. I sipped my Oreo shake and it crackled in my mouth. The melting taste of the chocolate and the crunchy Oreo made a mouthful of a sip. Two sips down my throat, I realized how heavy it was! The entire meal filled me up till my throat and that too in an addictive delightful way!

BYD has aced taste, quality and quantity all at the same time. In my eyes it was every bit a student's wonderland. I made a mental note to thank the friend who suggested the place and paid the bill after the waiter handed over my packed food. This is why I saved the commentary on the service for the end. The staff is so friendly and concerned with your comfort that you would feel like talking to an old friend! They make sure you find a table and show genuine regret at any inconvenience caused at their expense. The comfort of the customer is their major concern. All this on top of the ecstatic feeling in my taste buds, prepared me to confront the heat outside. It was every bit worth the visit and so much more. The packed food in my hand was proof! The entire way back I hoped that I would get hungry again and eat the pasta in my bag.

Being a Delhite, at some point or the other we have all heard of, if not been to the Jama Masjid road where Delhi's best Mughlai foods are famed to have originated. The stories about the food from this place have been told and re­told to the point that they have become fabled and are now perhaps engraved forever in the top ten places to eat in Delhi. The tales about these places are never ending, and in a quest to find any sort of credibility in their ridiculous popularity, I paid a visit to one of the most frequented restaurants in Jama Masjid; Al­Jawahar.

Jama Masjid is a pretty famous landmark among Delhiites, with the mosque being a central point of Old Delhi. Situated off the Netaji Subash Marg and located west of Red Fort, the way towards Al­Jawahar is through the street directly opposite Jama Masjid's gate no. 1. Entering into the street, which remains busy be it 12 in the afternoon or 1 o'clock at night, the big red board of Al­Jawahar immediately comes into focus. Perhaps one of the main reasons why Al- Jawahar continues to be held so high among us Delhiites is that it remains open so late into the night, giving us foodies an option to gorge at during our night time prowls.

Entering into the restaurant, you are led down to a lower basement sort of area where the seating arrangements are provided for the customers. As you wait for someone to come and take your order, the realisation dawns on you that although these restaurants have now spread out in chains, this is perhaps the place where it all started; the origin of serving Mughlai food. This could perhaps be where Akbar's chef prepared him his sheermals, or may be where Noor Jahan was impressed by their soft nihari rotis. Sitting here and wondering about all the tales that could be true, you can't but feel that this is as vintage as it gets.

After you give in your order, the service provided felt as sometimes good, sometimes ok, and sometimes downright neglected. But once the food is served, all you can do is let go of all restraints and dive in.

The taste was what you can expect from a typical Mughlai restaurant, rich in flavour and scaring the wits out of any health conscious person, as there was oil visibly floating in their gravies. The chicken burra, supposedly a Mughlai speciality, was a bit of a disappointment, as we found it lacklustre in its flavour and dry in taste. The khameeri roti (which is basically tandoori roti with a few mughlai tweaks) too tasted really good when hot and soft, but given the general size and the thickness of the dough used, that didn't last long. And once gone cold it becomes more of a task than a treat to bite into them.

The chicken curry which we ordered was one of simple preparation, but making it extravagant beats the purpose of a chicken curry. The meat was succulent, and juicy with two good pieces served. People with a taste for spicier food would probably find the chicken jahangiri more suited to their palate, for it looked more sumptuous and had more flavours added to it. Next up came the mutton qorma, and we all had high expectations regarding this dish. Although the food preparation was good, with the gravy rich in oil and flavour, what was disappointing was a lack of a better piece served up front. It felt like there were no more pieces to dive into after just three or four bites, and that left us feeling somewhat unfulfilled.

Any outing into a Mughlai restaurant is incomplete without their customary dessert firni, which, I felt, again lived up to all expectations. A simple kheer prepared from milk and rice, it was sweet and satisfying, what a traditional dessert is all about. All in all the food was not bad, but you are left feeling slightly disappointed, having perhaps not been served with anything "extraordinarily"

tasty.

The price at which their food is offered seemed high, and a hearty meal from Al­ Jawahar would cost you around 300-­350 per person. The best thing I found about this place was not it's food, but the fact that it remained open till late at night. Over­rated and a general lack of enthusiasm for any sort of improvement in their food summed up the experience of my visit to this place.