Travelling to Rohini from New Friends Colony is no small feat… particularly on a rainy day full of traffic snarls and grumpy people. Slightly grumpy myself, I walked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rohini and quite suddenly things felt much better standing in a beautiful lobby ahead and the smells of freshly baked confectionery wafting towards me. I took the elevator up to the first floor and entered the very beautiful Indian restaurant, Spice Art. After being escorted to a table by the large glass window, I sat down with the warm sunlight gently streaming in, creating a pool of golden warmth for us to begin our meal.
Here for the Peshawari food festival, my friend and I decided to try both the unlimited Vegetarian fixed meal (1200 INR, plus taxes) and the unlimited Non Vegetarian fixed meal (1400 INR, plus taxes). Awesome prices for a five-star don’t you think?
After a pungent, spicy, and bright red beetroot Kaanji amuse-bouche, we dug into the kebabs. The non-veg kebabs were excellent – the Chapli (inspired by the famous footwear in Peshawar) was tender and falling apart in its softness, the Aatish-e-Jheenga or tandoor cooked prawns were juicy and well seasoned, and the Seekh kebabs were among the best I’ve ever eaten. Surprisingly, the vegetarian kebabs were as good. I loved the Lahori aloo (baby potatoes, roasted to perfection with charred, crunchy bits sticking to them ), the Tawa Arbi (an interesting play on textures and flavours– sticky, grainy, spicy, and slightly sweet at the same time), and Hare Matar Ki Ganderi (shaped patties of green peas stuck on a sugarcane skewer). With these, I drank a Curry patta mojito – my first one of the evening. Aromatic with the slightly spicy taste of the leaf, and full of mint and lime, this drink was an excellent accompaniment to the food we were eating. I’m so glad the server suggested it.
The mains were even better. I have never had so many different types of rotis – each one better than the last. The Peshawari naan was packed full of all kinds of nuts and could be eaten and enjoyed just by itself. The Kasoori aur pudhine ka paratha was speckled and crispy, the Khamiri roti full of ghee, and the Roghani naan – soft and fluffy like a pillow. All these were used to happily mop up a variety of curries, including but not limited to Peshawari choley (rich), Balti Murgh (creamy), Dhuan Wala Gosht (spicy) and Subz Handi Korma (mild). The winner in my opinion though, was the Dal-e-Khaas. And why wouldn’t it be? The very charming Chef Hardev Singh explained that the dal is given chonk (tempering) thrice with different ingredients, but garlic is added all three times. I could happily eat just that lovely rich, red dal for a meal, with Kasoori paratha perhaps.
We also tried the Dum Zaffrani Biryani, but even for a rice lover like me, I found the rotis outstanding and so much better than the rice.
For dessert it was Sheer Khurma (a cold vermicelli pudding with nuts), which my friend loved, and a Gulkand gulab jamun, with a surprise rose petal jam filling. The meal ended with a meetha paan served inside a small ice sculpture. The pan was just the right size, sweet, and for the first time in my life I actually finished it.
For those far away from Rohini – yes, it is a long drive, but the food makes it well worth it. For those nearer – I don’t know what you’re waiting for!
Peshawari Peshkash is on from 7th – 24th February 2013 in Spice Art, Crown Plaza, Rohini.