El Posto – Western Winds in Eastern Lands of Delhi

East Delhi or Jamna paar as people from other parts of Delhi call it, can be easily termed as the deprived lands of Delhi. Though I keep hearing about the street food options in that area, but the restaurant scene has never been able to excite me. So when I received an email telling me about El Posto and inviting me for a review, I jumped on the offer. Was excited to see some western food in that part of town.
El Posto seems to position itself as Italian and Spanish place, however I doubt they do any of them in a authentic way. The food that they serve is definitely heard towards Indian palette, has no health factor and is delicious, well mostly.

Bakery’s Showcase
They have a decent looking coffee machine, so I am assuming they do decent coffee.
They sell fresh breads
Fresh cookies

Walking in the place, it does have a premium feel to it with Bakery and Cafe on ground floor and first floor being what they say is fine dining. However as far as aesthetics go could feel the money being poured in, however the first floor definitely lacked the finer details and the premium feel falls apart on a closer look. 

Coming to the most important part now, food. They do not serve alcohol and have no immediate plans of doing that. We started off with ordering 3 drinks from their mocktail menu and couple of shakes they have on offer. The fruit pastry shake though very filling and thick lacked presentation and felt more like a plain vanilla shake. Personally I liked the taste of it, however my two dining partners Shashank Arora & Shweta Mittal felt that it was too plain. the Chocolate shake named AK Choco 47 was definitely very rich in chocolate flavor and I found no reason to complain the mocktails the drink called Italian Smooch was the pick for the lot, while Lemon & mint Julep was strictly decent. The frozen mango margarita did not go down well with any of us.

AK Choco 47 – The chocolate shake.
The Fruit Pastry Shake
Italian Smooch
Lemon and mint Julep
Frozen Mango Margarita

Bruschetta Chicken Arabiatta and for vegetarians a Bruschetta layered with grilled cottage cheese was ordered, surprisingly the veg one went down better with all three of us while Chicken one was not bad at all as well. Stuffed Mushrooms that we ordered were quite a disappointment with no taste in the filling, while I also thought that batter in which they were coated and fried could have been better.

Bruschetta with Cottage Cheese layering
Another look at the Cottage cheese Bruschetta  (vegetarian)
Chicken Arabiata Bruschetta
Stuffed Mushrooms – did not like them much.
We got excited seeing the Tacos in the menu, have never eaten them outside India so would not know what authentic are, and wherever I have eaten them in India, have got a different version. Different shells, different fillings, different sauces. So was not surprised when the taco that was served to us by El Posto was something I was not able to identify. But then who gives a damn about the appearances. One bite into the fish taco, I knew it was a gluttonous beast and I should not be eating that however I just could not stop. If fish one was good, then the vegetarian version was extremely good. They put a Tikki inside it, which I liked because of the spices used in it, just added that punch to the Taco for me, or maybe I am too desi and love my food Indianised. Fyi – They use the same Tikki / Patty in their burger which is priced at Rs.45 only (Bakery Section).

Vegetarian Taco – LOVED it! 
Fish Tacos
Closer look at the Fish Tacos
Though none of us is really a salad person, however we thought we would give it a shot as there was a 5 cheese salad on the menu and how can I say no to cheese. The salad came with Apples, Kiwi and Lettuce amongst other things however after much fishing all the pieces of the cheese that I got were of the same type and even that was too brittle. Not sure which one was that though. Another disappointment for sure.

They have a decent selection of pizzas, however the ones that excited us were their Indiana range. Chicken Indiana and Paneer Indiana, basically paneer given an Indian twist. Due to our limited appetite and taking liberty of our invited status, we ordered half and half of each. half topped with paneer and other half with chicken.  Twist was not only in the toppings, its was also in the base sauce, which I was told made with mix of some kind of cheese and mint.

Salad : Guess the lowest part of the evening.
Combo of Chicken and Paneer Indiana Pizza
Fettuccine pasta in creamy pasta sauce with Buns and Garlic bread.

Pesto pasta that we ordered was not the usual one that I was used to. This one came with white sauce and pesto, on asking we were told that this was a customization that they had to do for this part of Delhi, as people just did not appreciate the normal pesto pasta. Oh Well! we Dilliwaalas do love our cream and cheese don’t we? That said the taste itself was quite nice and it came with two types of breads – Usual Garlic breads and mini buns, which were baked in-house only.

By this time we were about to give up, however the fighter inside us told us that we can eat more, and we need to eat more so that we can bring out all the food for you good folks.. ;-).  So to fight on next came Prawn in peri peri sauce and a Risotto with mushrooms. Risotto came in the last, and by that time were we quite full and hence were not able to do justice to it, so I had rather not talk about it here.

Risotto with mushrooms

The prawns were de-shelled jumbo prawns, have not tasted much of Peri peri sauce so cannot comment on it, however they came with a very nice side of Mashed potatoes and I loved the fact that chef had added peas to them. Not sure if its a usual practice or the idea comes from another desi mind.

Peri Peri Prawns
Mashed potatoes and vegetables with the prawns.

Now came the moment of reckoning – time for DESSERTS! We decided to bypass all usual Chocolate truffles and fudges and ordered Banoffee Pie along with the Red Velvet cake. The pie was nothing much to talk about, however the Red Velvet cake just blew our minds. It was like a perfect layer to seal of a gluttonous meal, the layer after which you feel that you have reached it. The orgasmic state if I may say so. Its was velvety smooth and the frosting took the icing of the cake, though on the sweeter side, they attributed it to one of the three cheeses used in making the frosting and if they had to make it less sweeter, it would loose its charm. And I see no reason why I would want that to happen.

Red Velvet Cake – The Star of the evening.

Banoffee Pie

To conclude it, its a new place with its own set of teething problems, the owner did mention about the staff issues as East Delhi is a difficult place to get good staff. However they seem to be doing very decent food, would not compare it to the best in Delhi, however it does offer an excellent option in the area it is located. Brilliant variety though the prices are on the higher side.

Address :
El Posto, 36-37, Aditya Mega Mall, Karkardooma, Delhi

Connect with me on Twitter : Sh_Ager

Cold Stone Ice-cream in India – Yes it is here!

Stone ice-cream or Cold Stone ice-cream seems to be new phenomenon or trend catching up in Delhi and other Indian cities. On the first look it might not look like much, but then thinking about it its a great way to eat and treat your ice-cream.
To simplify things It can also be referred to as Teppanyaki style Ice-cream, the griddle in this case is cold instead of hot. So now there is a cold stone or slab or a mixing board, which remains at -17 ‘C. The ice-cream is put on it, and then mixed with various assortments to make a unique combo. The combo and flavors would depend from vendor to vendor. The quality of ice-cream, quality of things that go into it and quality of recipe is what makes one brand or vendor stand out from the other. 
So the things that go into the ice-cream can be anything from Mars chocolate bar to Kit-Kat or Snickers, Nuts of various kinds, fresh fruits, Oreo cookies, various sauces and the list is endless. So just imagine a Sundae in which instead of toppings  flavors are mixed inside the ice-cream. And the Cold Stone ensures that the end product you get it still frozen. Also while mixing the ice-cream the usual ‘air’ in it also reduces, making the ice-cream less fluffy and more chewy. It is usually served on a cup made like a waffle, something similar to waffle cones. 
A fruit based Cold Stone concept @ Goosebumps
I have had them at 2-3 place in Delhi till now, first being Hokey-Pokey in Punjabi Bagh, then Giani Ice-cream in Punjabi Bagh itself, and to be honest I was not too bullish about it. Novelty value yes, not real excitement for me.
However yesterday someone recommended Goosebumps on our Facebook page a newly opened ice-cream parlor in Karkardooma market, a buzzing hub East side of Delhi. 
We managed to get there just about when they were about to down there shutters at 11 pm  however the owner obliged us and switched back lights and equipment on to serve us. It turned out it was not a normal ice-cream parlor and you cannot get ice-cream by the scoop here. They only sell cold stone mixes and they have multiple concoctions of the same. At that hour I was in no mood to look at details and asked him to surprise me. After a bit of greed filled discussion we decided on having one chocolate based, one fruits based and one mix based on nuts. However as the first one came out, looking at the portion size we realized that we had made a mistake and decided to stick to Chocolate and Fruits one only. Saving the nuts for some other time…:P
Choco Lava concept @ Goosebumps
Normally ice-creams have 12-13% fat content, however the ones used here have around 19% which we clearly felt in the first bite. We were told that this was required for ice-cream to do well in the mixing process on the stone. 
Technical jargon aside, I am yet to try many stone based ice-creams to actually comment on them, however thought of sharing some knowledge that I have about them with fellow food lovers. Also there is a popular misconception amongst the people that we do not have this concept in India yet, which is incorrect. It is catching up in other cities of India too, plus there are several outlets in Delhi NCR who are using Cold Stones for their mixes. 
Working on those mixes. Doesn’t it look like Teppanyaki?
That said, the ice-creams that I tasted at Goosebumps were really incredible and would readily beat some of the international brands in taste and awesomeness  I was told that they are only 1 month old as of now, all I can do right now is wish them luck. 
Average cost for a mix or concept at Goosebumps (as they call it) would be Rs.130-160 (we paid Rs. 315) for two. 

UPDATE :

All excited about the cold stone one of my friends was talking to me about it and she asked me where is the nearest place she can get it (from her residence) in Delhi. And incidentally we were riding around Malviya Nagar at that time and I remembered that Giani Icecream’s outlet in the area did have a Cold Stone.

We visited them and as usual I asked them to give me something they recommend, made on the stone. They recommended Punjabi Delight which was one of the 2 non-chocolate flavors on the list.

Punjabi Delight Mix on Cold Stone @ Giani Ice-cream, Malviya Nagar

And at Rs.180 what came to me really broke my heart. It was a fruit & jelly based mix and the things used in making it really looked synthetic and artificial, a doubt confirmed the moment I took the first bite. Plus the taste and presentation did not match up with the expectations and standards set by Goosebumps last night.

So bottom-line is that concept is novel and fancy however there can be HUGE variation in taste and quality from brand to brand and from outlet to outlet. 

Nawab’s Sector 7, Noida – by Jen Sugermeyer

Nawab’s Restaurant, specializing in authentic dishes from Lucknow, is a newly formed gem right on Delhi-Noida border. With both Veg and Non-Veg options, there is something on the menu for everyone, with a unique taste that all food lovers are sure to enjoy.  

Chicken Kali Mirch & Chicken Lucknavi Masala with Varqi Parantha

For the Non-Vegetarian in you, the Galauti Kabab is a recommended must-try.  The minced meat is created with a brilliant mixture of papaya, curd, onions, garlic, besan, and a varietal of spices.  The scrumptious mounds of meat are so tender they will melt in your mouth- giving a gratifying flavor burst to your senses.  Additionally, dishes such as Chicken Masala Lucknawi; made in a coconut, brown gravy, and Chicken Kali Mirch; made in peppery, white gravy, are equally satisfying.

Kebabs in Making
For the Vegetarian in you, the Crispy Paneer is the perfect snack or accompaniment for any meal.  A tasty paste of onions and chilies is applied between two slices of paneer, then rolled in crushed cornflakes and fried – creating a crispy bite chalked full of flavor.  Their Paneer Husseini is also a highly recommended dish to try, and their Malai Kofta is a must.  

Crispy Paneer
Their Biryanis come in both Veg and Non-Veg options, and are both a local delights in Lucknow.  The generous portions given make the perfect dish or compliment to any of their meals. 
Biryani being Prepared
Nawab’s has perfected the art of their Naans; a specialty of Lucknow.  Equally, if not more impressive, is their crispy and flaky Varqi and Ulte Tawe Ka Paranthas- it leaves one wondering just how they do it!

making the Ulte Tawe ka Parantha
Here, one can order-in food, and enjoy the mouthwatering cuisine from the comfort of their own home.  The owners, Gaurav Saxena and Apurva Gupta, take pride in the food their staff create, and use a variety of over 50 spices to make such cuisine.  The staff takes the time and the due diligence to each and every dish, making each order an authentic creation.

Me posing with Chef from Lucknow, Gaurav and Apurva. Quite a young team.

Nawab’s extensive menu can be found on-line at on their facebook page, and they can be reached at 9999615671 or 9999615645.  Try them out today, and experience the culinary joy that Lucknow has to offer.

Text & Pictures by Jen Sugermeyer

Nawab’s – Pocket – D, Plot number – 158, Sector – 7, Noida

Numbers where you can order : 9999615671, 9999615645
https://www.facebook.com/Nawabs.Noida

To share your experiences, reviews, recipes, food pictures etc, mail them to shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com 

Nawab’s, Noida Sector-7 – Non-Vegetarian’s delight. By Pankaj Sain

I was reading FED’s take on this new place called NAWAB’S and as I respect the reviews of FED, got motivated to try the place out. Another reason for the motivation was that the review covered only Vegetarian food and made me wonder how good the Non Vegetarian food is. If the vegetarian was so good, then to do full justice to the place and my fellow passengers of the ‘FED-eral Express’, I had to review the non-vegetarian ASAP.
Just as I was thinking I happened to put my views on the FED page and instantly Shashank (a dedicated foodie that he is) offered to join me on my culinary journey of sorts. Then came the surprise element – Jen Sugermeyer, she is someone I was looking forward to meet and interact with. Her passion and her knowledge about food from the world over really amazed me.
We drove down to Nawab’s even though the journey was somewhat long but it passed so quick as the three of us started sharing our experiences with food.
As we reached and met the two guys who run the show Gaurav and Apurva (who hails from Lucknow). These guys were Techies and IT professionals whose passion was for food thus this venture. As we sat in the Office/Kitchen I was impressed with the systematic approach of the duo and could not help but appreciate the cleanliness and hygiene of the premises. These were precursors for a treat that we were in for. The aroma emanating from the kitchen was overwhelming and would make anyone’s mouth water (Won’t tell you about mine)!!
Jen got down to her work in the kitchen learning, watching and clicking her camera as if she was on a mission. Within a few minutes the food bombardment started!! Personally I am a light dinner person but last night I could not help but make it an exception (as if I had a choice!!).
We started with the best and I repeat THE BEST Paneer my mouth has ever come in contact with. It was so so so crisssspy – crunchy on the outside and sofffft on the inside. The flavors were totally in sync and balanced. This is a must order dish and I am sure would go down very well with both people who appreciate their drinks or are just looking for a delicious starter. 
We then dived right in to the deep end with Mutton Shammi Kebabs, Galauti Kebabs and Ulte Tawe ka Parantha. The Shammi kebabs were delicious with no overwhelming or dominating spice. The delicate balance enhanced the flavor of the meat as the spices supported it wonderfully. 
The Galauti kebabs were heavenly and perhaps one of the best I have had, next to only Tunday from Aminabad in Lucknow. Apurva explained that they use raw papaya to tenderize the meat. They just melted in my mouth as the spices soothed my pallet. The starters were a delightful treat both to my eyes and taste buds.
Then came the main course consisting of Chicken Kali Mirch, Chicken Lakhnavi Masala, Paneer Husseini and Kali Mirch Paneer (deservingly named FED Panner).
My first reaction: WOW, Second : YUM YUM YUM Visual delights!!
As my FED Parantha (Varqi Parantha) broke through the surface of the Kali Mirch Chicken and I had my first delectable bite I was seriously impressed. The pepper flavor was dominating yet not overwhelming.  The consistent gravy was cream based and tasted awesome. All in all a great dish. The FED parantha was awesome crispy and multi-layered with a subtle sweetness that accentuated the flavors of the dish.
The Chicken Lakhnavi Masala was such a treat. The flavors in the gravy came though brilliantly. One thing I must add that it seemed that they had taken care that the gravy was not too oily or too rich which made the dish a solid treat. The Chicken was fresh and cooked very well as the meat came off the bone easily. I highly recommend this dish for its delicate balance of flavors.
For vegetarians the FED Paneer and the Paneer Hussaini were as good as the non-vegetarian dishes. They were so good that for a moment I thought that if I ever (read it as never !!) turned  vegetarian this is what I shall eat. The only dish which disappointed me was the Veg Biryani. I think they need to work on it.
The wonderful company of Jen Sugermeyer and Shashank Aggarwal added to all the fun I was having. Great Company Great food-what else does a man need in life !!
I highly recommend this joint as I found the food to be great as the owners take a lot of pain to keep the standards high with their attention to detail. Even though it is a take away place and there is no space to sit and eat (Owners made special provisions for FEDs), however make sure you try their food once. My wife’s family hails from Lucknow and I have traveled and tasted some of the best Avadhi food Lucknow has to offer and to me, this is as close to Lucknow as you can get in Delhi/NCR. 
Their facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/Nawabs.Noida

Nawab’s – Pocket – D, Plot number – 158, Sector – 7, Noida

Numbers where you can order : 9999615671, 9999615645
Written by Pankaj Sain
Edited by Shashank Aggarwal
 To share your experiences, reviews, recipes, food pictures etc, mail them to shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com 

Nawab’s, Noida Sector-7 – Awadhi Surprise

Awadhi cuisine. As a layman I find it very similar to Mughlai, Punjabi and other north Indian style of cooking. And being a vegetarian, differentiating becomes much more difficult. As per Wikipedia, the bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. I guess I need to go around sampling a lot more food, before I can start to differentiate between food cooked in ‘Dum’ style or some other ‘normal’ style

So when I was invited to Nawab’s in sector 7 Noida, I was not sure what to expect from a joint specializing in Awadhi cuisine, specially as a vegetarian. Plus they do not have a dine-in facility, and I was more like a guest of the owners in their office/kitchen. But people who know me, know that I am always willing to go that extra mile for good food ;-).

I started off with Ulte Tawe ka Parantha with Veg Galauti Kebabs. I never expect much from vegetarian kebabs, honestly speaking they are not supposed to exist. However off late I have been surprised with the kind of attention establishments have been paying to Kebabs for vegetarians. I have had kebabs made of Ghiya and daal (Bottle Gourd and Lentils), Rajma, Papaya and Daal etc. None of them disappointed me, and I would be more than willing to have those again. Talking about the kebabs that were served to me, truth be told I have had more succulent and softer versions, however considering that it’s a delivery/takeaway joint and all the food has to be packed in boxes, anything softer than what they had served would get mashed up and end up like a Halwa. They tasted quite good with the Ulte Tawe ka parantha, however I felt the serving of Kebab was quite less for the size of Parantha.

Kebabs in the making
Ulte tawe ka parantha

Continuing with starters/snacks, normally I avoid looking at something that says ‘Crispy Paneer’, specially at an outlet like this one. It look some convincing by Gaurav (owner) for me to give it a shot. Now I have to thank him for introducing me to such an awesome dish. A snack of paneer never tasted as good as the Crispy Paneer I had at Nawab’s Noida. I looked like paneer pakora, however the coating was much thicker and realy crispy, much crispier than than pakoda I have ever had. A bit into it, the real goodness came out. Unlike the normal paneer pakora where spices are applied between two layers of paneer, here it was ‘stuffed’ with a mix of spices with a pasty feel to it, probably due to the garlic used in it. The garlic and other spices gave it a brilliant flavor and went very well with the bland paneer.

Though I enjoyed the Ulte Tawe ka Parantha earlier however it made me wonder how would a Lachha Parantha taste if made out of the dough used for Ulte tawe ka parantha?  Apurva (Gaurav’s partner) was more than happy to oblige and what came out was named FED parantha :D. They also suggested me another dish which was not on the menu, made from Paneer in Kali Mirch Style, which we decided to name FED Paneer.

FED Paneer, earlier known as Paneer Kali Mirch

I eat out a lot, and I mean a LOT. And it is rare that I get hooked onto to something like this. The combination of the FED Parantha and FED Paneer (Basically Paneer Kali Mirch 😀 ) turned out to be deadly. It was unlike the usual Kadahi/Butter/Shahi/Pasanda paneer that we get everywhere in Delhi. That is stands out from rest of the Paneer Gang, makes it so dear to me. And talking about parantha, it was a very nice change from the regular Tandoori breads that I am so used to now, it is more delicate and flavorful than your routine breads. I also tried Paneer Husseini however would not comment on it, as was too engrossed in Paneer Kali Mirch. Would try it for surre when I am there next.

Paneer Husseini
And while I was there, Chicken Masala Lucknawi, Mutton Burra and Galauti Kebabs (Mutton) seemed to be selling like hot cakes. So I am pretty much sure they must be doing a good job with them too.

As mentioned earlier is a Delivery/Takeaway only joint based out of Sector-7 Noida, catering to some parts of Mayur Vihar, Noida and Vasundhra Enclave.

PS – The day I wrote this review, I ended up visiting them again.

Paneer Husseini which I missed on last time, I am in love with it as well. Its another dish which is unlike the usual paneer dishes serves in Delhi, though some might want to draw parallels with Kadhai Paneer, however it is completely different. So it is another dish I can recommend.

Vegetable Biryani

Also tried their Vegetarian Biryani, however since I have no experience with Biryanis, I would not comment on that. But honestly speaking, it did not excite me much as well.

My Rating : 4/5 (based on by vegetarian experience)

Their facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/Nawabs.Noida

Nawab’s – Pocket – D, Plot number – 158, Sector – 7, Noida

Numbers where you can order : 9999615671, 9999615645

Photo Credit – Jen Sugermeyer

Sampling Kachori and Samosa at Hira in Shahdara

Yesterday I was scouting the bazaars of Shahdara, looking for a quick bite for my combo of breakfast and lunch around 12 in the noon (brunch, as the more enlightened lot calls it), when my eyes settled on a shop which looked extremely crowded. And then I realised it was Hira sweets, a name quite popular in Delhi’s traditional food scape, particularly for their Balushahis. Couple of shops away was Hira Namkeen Bhandar, which I was told was part of Hira Sweets only, however later realised that Hira Sweets and Hira Namkeen Bhandar have different owners, albeit they are brothers. 

Kachoris @ Hira Namkeen Bhandar
I spotted Kachoris at Hira Namkeen Bhandar, and started to drool :P. I did not bother to look at anything else on offer. They have a separate counter outside the main shop was serving Kachori and Samosas, which at Rs.20 per plate were quite steeply priced. I was with my cousin and we started with a Samosa first, which I am glad they serve with Aloo Subzi and Methi ki Chutney. I have always liked my samosas with Subzi or Chhole rather than Chutney, cannot tell you why, but its the way it is. And then it was turn of their Kachori, which I found to be surprisingly small for the price.
Samosa with Aloo Subzi and Methi ki Chutney
The samosa’s filling was mixed with proper spices, and Subzi mixed with Chutney gave some contrasting flavors, which I thought were lovely. In kachoris the Pithi stuffed tasted fine, however a soft white layer of flour under the crispy crust suggested that they should have been fried on a slower flame for a bit longer. That Layer is a big turnoff in kachoris and for me, it separates the best from the rest.

My rating – 3.5/5, though the food was really good, however in Delhi we get much better Kachoris and Samosas at several places. That said, if I am in Shahdara or surrounding areas, then I would make sure that I go back to Hira Namkeen Bhandar to sample the goodies once more.

PS : Pics shot from Mobile Phone camera, so please pardon the quality.