Rahul Verma enjoys a Mediterranean meal amidst the lush urban forest of Saiyad Ul Ajaib
Some of the most endearing aspects of Delhi — apart from its majestic trees and precious monuments — are its parks. The old public parks — Buddha Jayanti Park, Lodhi Gardens and the Nehru Park, to name a few — are still beautiful. Then, over the years, new parks have been added to the city. When we moved to Mayur Vihar 17 years ago, we had to pass a huge landfill. Today, that landfill is a picturesque park — called the Millennium Park — with a beautiful Buddhist stupa.
Another park that’s come up in the recent past is the Garden of Five Senses. I had not been there, but had friends who had always gushed about its beauty, and the eating places that lined one side of the gigantic park. The garden is near the Qutub Minar, and you have to enter it after going through a gali with a village on one side and plush farmhouses on the other. I was kindly escorted by a PR person who had been hounding me for a while. But the young thing turned out to be from Kanpur, so we had a good time discussing the sweets of the eastern U.P. city (that is, I held forth, and she listened).
Our goal was a new restaurant called Harem Meeza, Saiyad Ul Ajaib. You can walk down to it from the Saket Metro station or take a rickshaw.
Harem Meeza promises a journey combining the best of the Mediterranean, West Asia and India. The restaurant has a nice outdoor sitting area and an indoor area. There is also an air-conditioned open area enclosed with transparent plastic sheets where we sat. I could see the surrounding trees from there and it seemed as if I was sitting in a forest (with all the comforts of a cool room). The new restaurant’s focus is on the Mediterranean, though it also offers some Indian dishes such as a chaat platter and the Gujarati undhiya. Undhiya reminds me of my friend’s late mother, who was an expert at cooking undhiya with all kinds of vegetables roasted over a slow fire. I did try out the chaat — which was pretty nice — but concentrated on the Mediterranean food. And that was very, very good.
I ate an excellent lamb tagine with couscous. The meat was soft, almost melting in the mouth, with just the right flavours of mild spices, and the couscous was nice and fluffy — and not soggy as it can become if not cooked well. Then I had a delicious soup — the harira — with a meat base and chick peas, and garnished with coriander and other herbs. This again was very good — and almost a meal in itself. I am quite fond of Mediterranean desserts, so I ended my meal with kunafa served with rose ice cream. The fried vermicelli, dipped in honey, was delicious, and the rose-flavoured ice cream went well with it.
I am told a meal for two — with alcohol— is for Rs.2000. The helpings are large. The place itself is so beautiful that it adds to the experience. The warm sun of an autumn’s day takes you straight back to the lap of nature. And what a pleasure that is in a city like Delhi.