Yesterday I had lunch at a wonderful restaurant in Hauz Khas village. Hauz Khas village has been a much-loved haunt of mine for many years. My BFF and I and later A and I used to love going there on weekends, browsing through countless tiny little stores crammed with interesting jewellery, art, knick-knacks and designer clothes. Experimental restaurants would spring up there, from Ritu Dalmia's first venture, Mezza luna, to one whose name I can't remember that used to feature live jazz and Italian food. The Bistro always housed restaurants serving North Indian food, and then there was Naivedyam…
But I haven't been back there in a really long time, so it was fun to land up there for lunch with friends yesterday. Mansi took us to Gunpowder, which serves South Indian food – and not the standard idli-dosa-sambar, though you will find dosa and sambar on the menu. The menu here is more eclectic, from aapams (without the mandatory stew) to Malabar parottas, kadala curry kerala style and Andhra style gunpowder. The selection of non-vegetarian is quite extensive too.
We ordered pepper rasam which comes with two papaddams apiece – it was spicy, sour and laced with garlic, heaven on a cold winter's day. Quixotically though, they refused to serve us just the papad without rasam, even though we offered to pay extra, and said we could only get it with another order of rasam! We over-ordered out of sheer greed and hunger – aapams with kadala curry and spinach-toovar-garlic dal for veggie me, chicken ghassala and mutton korma with Malabar parottas for the carnivores, and gunpowder on the side, as well as plain rice.
The food came really fast, which was a blessing. The aapams with kadala curry were divine – didn't even notice the absence of stew – though the spinach toovar dal was a bit ordinary. The carnivores loved the non-veg and went at it with gusto. The gunpowder was served with oil though not til oil, whose fragrance I missed, and it was an excellent, highly spiced version. The kadala curry is already making me anticipate another visit to the restaurant – it was spicy and coconutty all at once. The downer was the filter coffee – had no fragrance and tasted foul, no matter how much milk and sugar we added to it. Another thing that didn't sit well was the service – the waiters were poorly informed and unable to even pronounce the names of the dishes, let alone make intelligent recommendations.
However, after trekking up four narrow flights of stairs, we were well-compensated by the incredible view over the Hauz Khas ravine. The restaurant looks out over the baoli or lake, which is beautiful right now, with some trees sunken into the water, and a vista of far-away trees painted in misty blue-green hues by the winter haze in Delhi. Just being there in that environment would have been enough for a great meal, and the delicious food was an absolute bonus.
A meal for four cost us Rs. 1500 approx, excluding dessert.