Navroze celebrations and community food at SodaBottleOpenerWala

Community food can be sampled at its best in the homes of people. The next best option is to have them at restaurants serving such food. Luckily enough, Delhi is the city of settlers, who have, among other things, brought along their food and culture. Enterprising as they are, these communities who have settled in Delhi share their food commercially. So we have the Parsi Anjuman, Rustom’s and the ever famous SodaBottleOpenerWala serving some Parsi fare, which would be otherwise inaccessible to us. 

While Reeta Skeeter spoke about the Soda Bottle Opener Wala Vada Pao here, she had earlier promised to share more details about this quirky Irani café. The nostalgia evoking SBOW always has Skeeter occupied on every visit. Those who grew up in the 70s and 80s would recall the wired telephones that hung from walls, the Ravalgons and Poppins, the bakery cookies, the old multi-purpose tin boxes, the toy train track which was the best gift you could get on a birthday; they have it all up and decorated in a rather fun way.

But it is the grub that will have you hooked. Skeeter would need yet another post to write about the regular menu offerings but for now one must sample the Navroze Thali that is on the menu till August 27, 2015. They have the vegetarian (Rs 700) and the non-vegetarian (Rs 800) versions. Skeety, of course tried the vegetarian one and here’s what she thought: The Vengna Nu Achaar, a tantalising eggplant pickle is something out of the box and so is the Ravviyyan, where minty chutney is sandwiched between two eggplant roundels. Eggplant is versatile and when you hop across regional menus you get such gems. The Doodhi Murabbo is a sweet bottle gourd relish with the flavours of aniseed and the crunch of the chironji standing out. Skeeter could not have enough of it and if SBOW starts bottling this one, it will disappear from shelves. That good, yeah! The Saria is the Parsi poppadum made from sago or sabudana and deep fried to add some texture to your meal. The Papeta Nu Kavab are made up of a mix of tangy/spicy vegetables and potatoes, mashed, coated and deep fried. They are more like smaller versions of cutlets or pattice but the filling is what distinguishes them. The Paneer Akuri is the vegetarian version of Akuri, a rather simple preparation that had Skeeter hooked. To add touches from Bharuch, some dried fruits are added. The Kora no Patio is a pumpkin sabzi that did nothing for Skeeter’s tastebuds but she had her fork digging into a saffron-laced, delectable Vegetable Pulao accompanied with Masala ni Daar, a classic Parsi preparation of lentils and vegetables. The Kachumbar (diced salad) and Rotli (Roti) featured on the thali too. Skeeter washed it down with Rustam Bantawala, a cocktail using raw mango as the base. It went well with the thali. Thanks to the recommendation of chef Anahita Dhondy, I was saved the trouble of choosing what to drink. 

End your meal with the Ravo (semolina milk pudding) and Falooda. The rose syrup laden falooda comes seated in a cutting glass and being true to the community food, SBOW hasn’t cut down on the sweetness to suit your taste. Skeeter loved it the way it was.  
The portion is generous, so it is advisable to fast for a few hours before you dig into this one.

Maharashtrian street food comes to Delhi: Vada Pav

Indian street food never fails to impress. Skeeter tries to record whatever she eats and one of her street food favourite is featuring in Delhi restaurants these days. It is the mighty VADA PAV from Maharashtra. 
For the uninitiated this fuss-free snack is made using a pav(bun) from the ladi pav which is slathered with a red chilli-garlic chutney and a piping hot vada is placed in it. Something as simple as that, served with a fried green chilly tossed in salt. The accompanying green chilly is a MUST. The vada pav is incomplete without it. It is Maharashtra’s answer to all the crappy, tasteless frozen burger patties used in international chain of restaurants.
vada pav in delhi
(On the right: Vada Pav seated in an aluminum pan at Soda Bottle Opener Wala, Gurgaon)
Have the vada pav for breakfast or a meal on the go when in a hurry or as an evening snack. It is simple, tasty and not healthy but worth every bite. It used to cost something as low as Rs 5 in Maharashtra quite a few years ago. 
Skeeter bumped into old pal, the Vada Pav, one afternoon when she went for a very quick lone lunch at Dhaba by Claridges (DLF Place, Saket) and was impressed. It tasted very well but not like the one she used to eat in Maharashtra. The Dhaba Vada Pav costed a bomb (Rs 195) and came with the chef’s special chutney. They serve two Vada Pavs in one portion. So a portion of the Vada Pav plus a soft drink set Skeeter back by nearly 500 bucks, which is a lot, but for want of her favourite snack in the comfort of a mall and sitting in the hometown it was forgiven.
Next, Skeeter came across the old pal again at the swanky Cyber Hub of Gurgaon at a Parsi eatery called Soda Bottle Opener Wala(will write more about it soon). This one stunned the senses and was a winner hands down! For one, it tasted JUST LIKE the one Skeeter was used to having during her days in Maharashtra. The fried green chilli on the side, rolled in salt was perfectly done. It costed Rs 65. There was one pav as opposed to two at Dhaba by Claridges. It came seated in an aluminium pan and just that. An innovative take on plating as rivalled to all the fancy stuff we are used to these days. They did not fancy it up, nor did they provide some innovative chutney, they simply let the food do the talking. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. 
Oh and if you ever go to Maharashtra, do try the Joshi vada pav. 🙂