SanaDiGe – Coastal Fine Dine – Restaurant Review

The USP being the nice central location, abundance of parking and super exotic food – which is starting to find favor with us Dilliwalas, however is still not very common.

SanaDiGe is a restaurant that has recently opened up in Malcha Marg Market in Diplomatic Enclave of Delhi – Chanakya Puri. It opened in the building that housed Schengen – Deli & Cafe, which we incidentally visited last year itself. Walking into the same building we were expecting some elements of familiarity with the last restaurant, however was surprised by the way the place has been completely made over. You are politely ushered in and directly towards the hydraulic lift which takes you to the next floor.

Though the menu had lot of options however we decided to go with the Thali or fixed meal platters on offer as that would give is a chance to try multiple things without ordering a lot of different dishes (Thali is on offer only from Monday to Thursday in lunch hours). There were 5 types of Thali to choose from – Veg, Chicken, Mutton, Fish and Prawn.

We ordered for Veg and Chicken versions however wished that restaurant would have done some mix and match of the meats. The Chicken Thali comes with three chicken dishes, prawn one with 3 prawn dishes and so and so worth – it would nice to have a thali with one chicken, one mutton and one fish dish or whatever combo the restaurant decides. Unless of-course there is some logic that says you should only be eating one type of meat in one meal.

A welcome drink of Kokum Kadhi along with some crackers was served to us, followed by assorted condiments – pickles, chutneys and sauces was placed on or table. The chicken thali came with Sanna & plain rice for carbohydrates – sanna can be described as a cousin of Idli – quite similar, still very different. The Veg thali came with two chapatis and a very small portion of what I would call Veg Biryani.

Assorted Chutneys
Pickles and chutney placed an all tables.
Kokum Drink with crackers
Welcome drink and crackers.

There were three chicken items in my Thali – Chicken Pepper Fry, Chicken Masala and Chicken Curry . Chicken Curry was well made and reminded of my meal at Manglorean restaurants down south, where I enjoyed the curry with Kori Roti – which thankfully was available on the menu of SanaDiGe and was promptly served, at additional cost of-course.  Chicken Masala did not seem right – the flavors has just not got inside the meat and left a bit to be desired.

Chicken Curry
Chicken Curry
Chicken Masala
Chicken Masala – scope for improvement there.
Chicken Pepper Masala
Chicken Pepper Fry – BEST dish of the lunch.

Chicken Pepper Fry – I guess that was the name was highlight of the meal for me – juicy and succulent morsels of chicken tossed in spices including pepper and overload of curry leaves – flavors that took me straight back street carts of semi-urban Chennai – a taste I have not found anywhere else till date.

Thali also came with Rasam, Salad, Coconut Chutney & Pickle – two of those items are anyhow available as condiments on the table and serves no purpose in the Thali – infact can leave you feeling like a fool as they seem like items just to fill the space in the platter, while adding no real value to the meal – same was the case with their vegetarian Thali as well. However my dining companion who is a moderate eater found the Veg thali at Rs.350, super bang for the buck and full of flavors. And honestly speaking the Chicken Thali at Rs.450 was not bad value for money either.

Incidentally table next to us was occupied by 3 gentleman, one of them Rajiv Talwar is also one of our readers. Thanks to him got to taste their Chicken Ghee Roast – which was well made and rich in flavors – the taste of spices tingling in the aroma of Desi Ghee were enough to make sure that I find my way back there and have more of it with their Neer Dosa. Our friends ordered Mutton Thali, Prawn Thali and Fish Thali – and only the Mutton Thali was able to satisfy them both in terms of quality and quantity. A Calamari side dish ordered by them, did not get favorable review aswell.

The Payasam served in Thalis worked as a fulfilling dessert and ended our meals with their filter coffee, which though not served in traditional apparatus  was still right on spot. Our total bill was around Rs.1300-1500, which also included a massive portion of Kori Roti.

Overall a very pleasant experience full of rich flavors and considerate hospitality, just what you would expect from a fine dine establishment. The USP being the nice central location, abundance of parking and super exotic food – which is starting to find favor with us Dilliwalas, however is still not very common.

Food and Beverage Bloggers – FABB

FABB is an association of Food and Beverage Bloggers aimed towards growth and development of Food Bloggers – Our agenda includes conducting various workshops on photography, technology, content along with various event focused on food experiences.

From Coffee Shop conversations to Google Hangouts to Cocktail Parties. We got them covered.

Naivedyam – Vegetarian South Indian Fare

Naivedyam has been in Patel Nagar ever since I can remember, and apparently have never visited the place. Have tried the Hauz Khas Village restaurant a few times and don’t remember having a bad experience. Yesterday we entered the place at around 12:45 pm and were the first customers for a Sunday. The place did not smell too good and the staff was just clueless looking at our expressions. 
We started by ordering from Day Specials (before that a very nice Rasam was served, on the house) : Parotha Kurma & Appam Kurma – As these are the items that you usually do not get at ‘South-Indian’ menus in Delhi. Along with them we ordered a plate of Dahi Vada and normal Idli each.  
Food took its time in making, however was hot and fresh, the only grouch being that the server forgot to serve us plates to eat from. 
Dahi Vada – None of us enjoyed it, maybe matter of palette.
Idli – Hot, soft and fresh – good stuff.
Parotta – came with 3 parottas and Kurma, very well made.
Appam – Two appams served one after the other, nothing to complain.
Parotta with Kurma (Look at that steel bowl)
Appam
Idli with Gunpowder on the side
Dahi Vada
Then we had to wait for some time for waiter to come to us to take the order, somehow the waiter just seemed clueless. On complaining, some senior looking person started to take our orders. 
We managed to place order of Rawa Mysore Masala Dosa, Mix Veg Oothapam, Bisibelle Bhaat & Puliogre. Except for the Oothapam which seemed dry everything was delicious, specially Bisibelle bhaat which is like a simple khichdi, however on steroids of flavors. Something my mom loved and says she is gonna try at home. Puliogre which are tamarind rice did not draw much favor from the table and it was constantly compared to Bisibelle bhaat, which was the blue eyed boy of the lunch. 
Bisibelle Bhaat or Khichdi
Uthapam
Sambhar, Chutney – again check the bowls.
Tamarind Rice or Puliyogre
Papads
The one thing that bettered me was that the plates were chipped from lot of places and even the steel utensils did not seem the way they should. 
My Ratings for Patel Nagar Outlet:
Taste : 3.5/5
Value for Money : 3.5/5
Hygiene : 2/5
Ambiance : 3/5
Service : 3/5

Overall 3/5 kind of place.

Rice payasam
Mysore Pak – came from a box thet sell over counter. 
Its not exactly a street stall where hygiene takes a back seat in comparison of taste, however for a full service dine in restaurant, they definitely need to get their house in order. The plus point being that for a City like Delhi they do offer a varied menu and the food quality is high & close to authentic, generally speaking. Super value for money – Which all holds true for any other outlet of Neivedyam. 
Final Bill..
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Chidambaram’s New Madras Hotel – The Old Guard of Lodhi Colony

Lodhi Colony is changing. Or alteast its markets are. The sleepy colony made in British Raj to house central government employees and staff members is fast becoming home to some of the ‘finer’ restaurants in the business today. From Chez Nini, Kunafa, Elma’s etc in Meher Chand Market to Guppy by Ai, Tres, and Ploof Deli in its main markets – its now home to some of the most suave & chic food joints in town.
But then there are people like me who would visit something as fashionable as Tres Bar & Kitchen, order first course of small plates, but then feel suffocated with all the prim and proper things and manners. Waiters talking in an accent just does not leave much scope for me to stay there. So what does a common man like me do? Head straight to Chidambaram’s in Khanna Market of the same colony.
Now this is as South Indian as they come, not your typical Dosa-idli-vada joint. Though you get that too, plus some Chinese and Italian however I would rather stay away from those things.
I have not tried a lot of things there, plus I am not really an expert in South Indian food, however I still know that what I eat at Chidambaram’s is quite satiating for my soul
Rasam (Complementary)

 

Papad
My absolute favorite has to be Masala Idli – Simple ubiquitous Idli coated with a paste that is made our ghee and gunpowder. Now this is one combo for which I can shoot someone for, as long as I have enough gunpodwer. Ok! bad joke, but I hope you got my sentiments. They also serve a combo of Idlis, which has one each of Vegetable waali Idli, Fried Idli and Masala Idli. You try it and take your pick.
The Idli Combo

 

Masala idli

 

Fresh vegetable idlis ready to be served.

Another thing that I love about this place is their Rasam and Papad. Not sure about the padad however Rasam is complementary and is quite delicious as well, though cannot say how authentic. Have also tried Pongal which I guess is a very popular Tamil dish for breakfast down south is something like khichdi. Again cannot comment on authenticity, however loved the different type of khichdi and would be trying it again for sure. Besides Kesari Bhaat, which is like our Suji ka Halwa’s South Indian cousin and there is no reason for me or you not to like it, have also tried Tarmarind rice or Puliyogare as they are originally named.

Kesari Bhaat
Pongal
Puliyogare

When it comes coffees I am a big fan of Filter Coffee, after that comes your coffee shop coffee and then Instant coffee at the last. And when it comes to Filter Kaapi, the one they serve at Chidambaram’s, does a fabulous job for me. One of the best that you can get in Delhi/NCR atleast.

Kaapi, Filter Kaapi

They have quite an elaborate menu and I am sure I am gonna try more of it with time, however till then their Masala Idli and Filter Coffee is what I can absolutely recommend. Dilliwaala’s would love these two things for sure.

Coming back to Lodhi Colony in general – MI Meats is another desi joint that I appreciated in Meher Chand Market, however my last visit left me disappointed and its a pure non-veg. joint anyhow.
While you are in the area or at India Habitat Center and are in not a mood for All American Diner or other Angrezi options mentioned in this post then Chidamram’s is the best option you have for desi food. Besides that if you are a food lover then make sure you visit this South Indian Dhaba once for sure, you will not regret it.

Malabar Hotel : Kerala in the bylanes of Delhi – By Varun Chaudhary

Had this crazy craving for some authentic Kerala food last night, and well to be honest was surprised that the internet search revealed no great results.  From the limited opinions I got from some food bloggers – I zeroed in on the place called Malabar Hotel. Simply because everyone wrote good for their biryanis, and I’m a sucker for biryanis – any and every kind.

Well it was not an easy choice, cause the location was marked as Sarai Jullena (marked as Julliana on the menu cards – probably to make the location sound exotic) and I’m sure not many of us know where that is – even I had only heard of it, never ventured inside that area.  So the hunger pangs rose to an alarmingly high level and off we went to sample some malabari food.
Malabari Biryani

 

Since I was going with my wife, who is a vegetarian – concerns like cleanliness, crowd type (don’t judge me by this, we do think about this don’t we?) safety, veg food options were also issues looming around in my head.  But they were to be dismissed soon.
Took some direction help from the local rickshaw committee, who addressed it as Madarasi ka hotel – not the most racially correct title but nevertheless they helped.  They offered some sound advice, “Gaadi escort hospital ke gate No.2 ke bahar laga ke saamne wali gali mein paidal chalke jaana” – translation Park your car at gate No.2 of Escorts hospital and walk into the opposite bylane.
It’s a small walk into the lane opposite gate No.2, you come across Malabar Jewelry House – which is owned by the same establishment.  It looked like a swell jewel shop within the residential cum local business area.  Take a right after about 100 meters in the lane and viola – you are greeted with Malabar Biryani.
Now the real meat (paneer for veggies) of the story, the place is a no fuss interiors, with super clean tables, glass doors makes for good corner seating with practically no view outside  but jokes apart the best part of the place was it was super chilled.  The aircon seemed to be of another planet – it was in all probability the sister of the refrigerator separated at the last Khumb mela.
The place houses about 10 tables with varied seating, so lets say a good house of 50 can fill it full.  When we entered it had a couple  who preferred to be seated at the corner table (full-on privacy), 4 friends who looked a bit high or probably it was the prolonged stare and a guy who came with his companion the newspaper (Malayalam).
The menu cards are placed at the billing counter, so you either pick one up if you are in a hurry or show your decency and ask for one.  The servers know bare minimum hindi, like something to save their lives if required, otherwise keep it to broken English or point at the menu trick along with hand gestures of the number of plates required.  If it is going no where make a clueless face and in comes the manager with a smile so wide it seems on first instance like the guy who wants to dupe you with double rates at Janpath market – reminding you of those calls “Sarrrrrr, good quality – please pick up, only for you my friend, Rs.100 market price 500 – my friend, you want hashish” anyways…
To say the least first impression of the manager was not the last impression, he helped us so politely and with a smile that can put all the hospitality fakers to shame and some lesson for all the hotel management grads who do not take their work seriously.  He knew very well the moment he approached us that we have come in for the first time so he told us to go with basic options and after some “what is this, how is this made, with what ingredients, what is this…” we ordered.
Veg stew – thick coconut milk gravy with veggies like carrots, turnip, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans etc. the gravy had a smooth texture, the veggies were boiled to death though but the coconut gravy was so flavorful that I ignored the limp veggies. Mildly spiced. Was served in a bowl good for almost two.
Egg roast – Interesting dish. It’s a thick masala (tomato and onion) gravy with 3 boiled eggs. Spiced well with curry leaves flavoring.  It would be an awesome pick for drinkers bored of roasted chicken & the likes. Decent quantity served.
Malabar Parota – we simply said parotta (please pronounce it paranthaa once to see the angst on the servers face – this will be enough reason for you to get you an outcast tag) and they served us 3 of these.  Not that we complained.  Now I like the crispy ones which are freshly fried/baked, this seemed it was pre-done and heated before serving.  So not high marks for that but the dough flavor was good and coupled with stew or egg roast this got some life.
Finally, the Malabar special Chicken Biryani – for starters this is not at all like Mughlai degh cooked biryani, this is the quickie cousin, the rice was of the smaller grain variety not the ones used for south Indian cooking usually and the flavor from the rice alone was the enough to know what more is in store.  This dish was a winner from the moment it arrived our table.  Not because it was the only non-veg dish but because of the uniqueness it offered.  The plate came with a rice (in cake formation) topped with a fried papad and mix raita n achaar (this was good).  The presentation won me over and the rest was done by the taste.  The rice are filled with two chicken pieces and some sort of semi gravy concoction.  The flavoring was mild, coupled with raita and achaar it was a mesmerizing.  I think I’m drooling while writing this also.
I wanted to order more but my partner in crime gave up, well she did get to savor three items. For me ordering more was more for the gluttony than the hunger, after the Biryani miracle I wanted to see if they do justice to other non veg dishes – so would need to make another trip for this soon.
By the time we finished our meal the place was packed.  Well I wasn’t surprised a place where they serve with a smile, even served us extra papads at no extra cost and the food was super yumm why they wouldn’t fill up even if it was a weekday.
The only bummer was we asked for coffees, which they couldn’t serve since their coffee was out of stock.
Okay, now the climax – we asked for the bill and it was – drum rollsssssssssss…..
Rs.211/- YES, believe it!
I had to ask twice and then finally ogle at the bill to believe it.
Chatted up with the manager and told him what a brilliant job they are doing and how good the food was – on inquiring came to know they have been located here since the last 8 years and have now opened another one in Gurgaon (Med city).  Well the business strategy was clear with this revelation – medical tourism from the South of India to Delhi for better medical services is really high, and that most of the staff at hospitals are also from South – so the target audience here are the medical students, resident doctors and medical travelers (who mostly travel with accompanying family members) – now that explains why some of the dishes were mildly spiced and the pocket friendly prices.
An absolute VFM meal and high scores on taste, must explore if you are a food wanderer on the constant search of that elusive food paradise.
 
Written by Varun Chaudhary

 

 

Celebrating Onam at Kerala House, Delhi!

Being a part of a FED raid was on my To-Do list since some time now and this Saturday i finally got to be a part of one. The occasion was Onam. Since Kerala House in Delhi was organizing a special lunch feast on this occasion, it was chosen as the venue for the raid.

Kerala House Delhi location
For the uninitiated, Onam is a festival to celebrate the arrival of the very famous and popular demon king of Kerala – King Mahabali. Read more on the history of Onam. As is synonymous with most festivals of India, the USP of Onam is also food – or Sadhya as it is popularly called.

The FED group assembled at Kerala Bhavan around 1:30 PM and headed for the feast. After around 20 mins of waiting we finally got a place to sit. The meal was served on a Banana leaf and consisted of Aviyal, Thoran, Olan, pickles, papad, sambar, dal, rice, payasam, buttermilk and much more.

For those who are new to Kerala cusine, i have tried to decode what the various items mean (If you find any mistake please feel free to highlight it).

 

Onam Sadhya Dishes

With so many varieties on my plate, I was short of ideas on from where to start and where to end, what all to mix and what not to. Of the various combinations I tried, I loved the combination of beans and sambar with rice as well as aviyal, and adrak ka achaar with rice. The dessert – Semiya Payasam was also delicious.

In all the meal at Kerala House, Delhi was a cherishable experience – authentic, delicious and filling. It felt great to be a part of such a wonderful group and I certainly look forward to my future raids with the FED group 🙂

 

The FED group

 

The Day We All Got F.E.D. – An account by Kev Winchcombe

 

Here is an account by Kev Winchcombe, of the FED raid he attended, reproduced from his blog  http://monsoon-meandering.winchcombe.org

Last night we became temporary members of the Food Enthusiasts of Delhi, or FED for short.

The FEDs are organised by a guy named Shashank, whom I’ve got to know on the Internet – yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it sounds dodgy! – over the last year or two. As the name suggests the FEDs are people who are passionate about their food and they’re passionate to try restaurants week after week to find the best that Delhi has to offer.

It’ll be no shock to people that know me to realise that I was always likely to get along very well with a group of people that adore food and love to meet up to try new dishes. Throw in some photography, a blog and a bit of Facebook and we were always onto a winner.

The FEDs have a web site and also a page on Facebook that I’ve been following for a while, every week tantalised by the pictures Shashank had taken of the previous FED meet up.

Often the FEDs go on a “food walk” where they pick a few places in a particular area to go to and then they sample the delights on offer. Other times they do a “raid” on a particular restaurant and sample pretty much everything on the menu. One such raid that grabbed my attention was the cheesecake raid where they ordered every type of cheesecake as a starter: how I would have loved that one.

I guess we attended something more like a “raid” but it was a very civilized one and boy oh boy there was plenty of food. For me this event was a great opportunity to meet another of my Facebook friends, Yogesh Sarkar, who runs many web sites, especially BCMTouring.com, which is a great site for anyone who’s thinking of going to Ladakh as we were originally. Yogesh is also a very good photographer as his pictures testify.

The restaurant, Swagath, is in the Defence Colony area, an area which didn’t look like a likely source of eateries, but out jumps restaurant after restaurant. Swagath clearly sits at the higher end of some of the places on offer and it is one of the few restaurants in this landlocked area that specialises in Mangalorean sea-food. Excitedly we were the second bunch of people to arrive and were greeted by Manish, a charming IT/BPM guy working for a government organisation – sound familiar (apart from the ‘charming’ part)?

It’s time to start ordering the food up and Shashank and a few of the South Indian food experts start ordering plate after plate of starters. Huge tiger prawns didn’t last long, the pomfret was gorgeous, so many dishes that I stood no chance of remember the names. It’s hard to gauge just how much was ordered but it was LOTS – yes I’m shouting because it was LOTS.

Sufficiently full from the starters the guys then order the main meals, with multiple paneer dishes, the strangely named but nicely spiced Chicken 65, roasted ghee dishes, squid, crab, the list went on and on.

Our resident blogger Shashank always took photos of each dish before people started digging in and it didn’t take the waiters long to realise just who they should give each dish to: Shashank. Strangely he didn’t want to take a picture of my lime soda before I drank it 😛

Shashank takes photos of every dishes
Shashank takes a photo of one of the dishes served.
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Chicken 65
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Tandoori Platter (non-veg)
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Paneer Koliwada
One of the dishes at the FED raid
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Pomfret Tawa Fry
One of the dishes at the FED raid
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Squid
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Prawns Ghee Roast
One of the dishes at the FED raid
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Tandoori Aloo Dilnaz
One of the dishes at the FED raid
One of the dishes at the FED raid
Malabari Parota