Chinese – the Culinaire way!

For we all keep repeating to everybody around us, and in the heart of our hearts believe the same. “Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai” or “All that glitters is gold”.

Well, that doesn’t hold true in the case of a roadside neighborhood restaurant which looks like a “Dhaba” and you are literally sitting on the road while dining. It does have a tiny inside sitting and a washroom too (Mind you, this can be a concern for a lot of people).
Coming to the name and fame of this place, this joint is known as CULINAIRE and is a stand-alone joint located in the S-block, Chandan market of Greater Kailash Part-2. The cuisines they serve are Lebanese, Thai and Chinese.
Looking at the size of the place, one at first glance would not believe the variety it offers. The standard and quality of the place is maintained and is only open during lunch and dinner hours. It provides the facility of take away and home delivery also, besides dining there.
An average meal for two would be around Rs. 600-800.
One shouldn’t be surprised to know that the place always has waiting, and people from all over Delhi and NCR come here to eat. Its been there for 15 years and has no branches anywhere else.
Being a Vegetarian my favorites there are the Burnt garlic rice, Chilly garlic noodles, Spring rolls, Manchurian and Veggies in black pepper sauce. One cannot resist ordering at least a second helping of the Dimsums there, they are just phenomenal. The soup and starters are to die for.
Its a must try for all you Chinese lovers. Open all 7 days a week.
Everything is served hot on the platter, has a helper boy standing there to help one to park properly to avoid chaos and give coffee bites with the bill. (that is something I completely love about the place – the feeling of nostalgia with coffee bites).

Culinaire

1, Chandan Market, 
S Block, Greater Kailash 2,
New Delhi









Southie Lunch at Spice Water Trail

Being a South Indian, I dislike eating south Indian food in any form, especially when there are 3 awesome south Indian cooks in my home. I find it puzzling when people PAY to eat south indian food. I personally feel that Upma is the worst creation by mankind and I still cannot believe that an Upma dish won that Indian chef some million dollars (Holy mother of god). My mum too expressed displeasure when she found this out because she is actually capable of dishing out atleast 365 varieties of Upmas to torture me every day of the year.
So IF I HAVE to eat south Indian (read – pestering by friends and me finally relenting) then I insist on eating the authentic. I cannot stand when people drag me to eat Masala Dosa or Upma or worse Idli (ooo god). (There are other things in madrasi khana too, people, apart from masala dosa and idli)
So there have been quite a many decent South Indian outlets which serve decent authentic food. There’s Andhra Bhavan (by far cheapest and best andhra food I have had and being a native of andhra, I can distinguish my gongoora from my aavakaai – i’ll wait until you google).
Then there is Swagath (Gurgaon among other places), Sagar (def col), Tamil Nadu house canteen, Karnataka Bhavan, Saravana Bhawan, Zambar, Zunpowder and I could go and on.
So this weekend I went to eat at a place called Spice Water Trail in GK1 because frankly I was sick of eating Chinese and Italian for lunch. So somehow, in a bout of amnesia, I decided to go with my friend and eat south indian food. It first caught my attention due to its different name and the outside wall which was painted orange. So cool.
First of all, the ambiance. It is, well, south Indian. There are bells and bell shaped things hanging, big wooden pillars in the middle. Quite comfy and totally non-intimidating. I hate places where I feel that I am under dressed. This is completely opposite. Quite warm and nice. The place opens up at 12.30 and serves till 10 in the night, I guess. It plays south Indian instrumental music (violin, mandolin etc), apt for the surroundings. But after looking at me and my friend, they changed the music to  trance. I told them to change it back and thankfully it was back on.
And it serves Mangalorean, Andhra and Tamilian cuisine.
Being vegetarians, we had limited choice but still were determined to make the most of it. So for starters we ordered Vaazhapoo Cutlet (yes i memorized the name). It is banana flower (yes flower) mixed with different kinds of dals and rolled into a cutlet. And as an accompaniment, we had Coconut Water.

For the main course, we ordered a Pumpkin Elliseri (pumpkin in grated coconut curry. Kerala cuisine I think) and Ghee Rice.

The four Chutneys
While we were waiting for our food to arrive, there was papad and 4 most awesomest chutneys to give us company. The papad was rice papad (typical to southie cuisine and quite nice) and the chutneys.. OOOO MY GOOOOOOD. Four most awesome chutneys in front of me in 4 cups. It was sheer brilliance. The first chutney was a coconut chutney, the second was mint and coriander chutney, third was onion chutney and the fourth and the most brilliant of them all, was some kind of dal and tamarind chutney. All these chutneys had so many different flavors going on and neither of them tasted like the other which was so perfect.

 

While I was wolfing down papad after papad (with the chutneys of course), I reminded myself of the awesome meal that was waiting for me. So I stopped after 2 papads. (or was it 3, I don’t remember).
Papad with chuntney
Soon after our starters came. The banana flower cutlet. It was unlike any other cutlet I have ever eaten. What a beauty. It was super crispy on the outside and soft and brittle on the inside. I was surprised how they managed to fry it without breaking it. Now while eating south Indian food, there are always a million delicate flavours at play and the same goes for this cutlet too. So many spices, flavours inside my mouth. And with the chutneys, it was as if an atom bomb full of delicate and wonderful flavours was blasting inside my mouth. And with a bit of lemon, it became superlative. As soon as I took the first bite, I forgot the outside world (and even my friend for 5 minutes) and concentrated on the plate in front of me.

After finishing the cutlets, came the main course. It was pumpkin (seetafal) in coconut based curry. The pumpkin was cooked to perfection but the pieces retained their original shape. (I love when chefs are able to do that). Again it came with a million flavors but completely different from the ones in the cutlet. This was coconuty and had flavors like dhania (that saabut dhaniya thingy, I asked my mum), and asafoetida (heeng) and curry leaves, mirchi (red one) and other spices. It was a little sweet (because of the pumpkin) a little hot, and a whole lot flavorful.

Banana Flower Cutlet

The Ghee rice was a perfect accompaniment in case you are a rice eater (chef’s recommendation when we were thinking of ordering lemon rice), although aapam would also be perfect with this curry.

While we had a Tamilian starter and a Keralite curry in the main course, we wanted something from Andhra too. So I asked for “Gongoora” an Andhra pickle which went perfectly well with the rice and the curry. The pickle is made from a leaf and it is a little tangy and pickly and with tamarind, it was just brilliant and perfect. (I know, I am running out of adjectives).

Pumpkin  in coconut gravy and ghee rice
Even though the options are limited for vegetarians (as always, Hmmph), but they make special effort for it to be a treat. As for the non vegetarians, I saw two ladies carrying LV bags and wearing stilettos and ordering prawn curry and chicken chettinad and literally licking their hands and plates.
The coconut water was extremely fresh and refreshing and cool. It was as if they were freezing coconuts inside the freezer and took them out when asked. It wasn’t that sweet though, but refreshing enough.
The staff is extremely sweet and ever smiling and will point out if you are ordering too many things with the same flavor. So listen to them when they tell you not to order lemon rice with the pumpkin curry. The price range is modest and the portions are good too. All that we ordered was for Rs. 850 but VAT killed us and the overall bill was for Rs. 1150. Quite decent for 2 people.
I truly enjoyed my tryst with south Indian food for lunch. In case you are bored with the usual bread, burger, roti, paneer, pasta, go try this place for something flavorful and delicate and experience something truly delightful.