LAUNCH Hinglish straddles the worlds of English and Indian cuisine

I t's a place from where you will get something as desi as nihari and as exotic as grilled ham trenchman. Recently launched Hinglish: The Colonial Café in West Delhi's Pacific Mall, near Tagore Garden, is based on the concept of a casual café which offers a range of dishes chosen from English and popular Indian food. The day we visit it, the board outside announces keema bun with cutting chai as its signature dish. Young entrepreneur Shagun Somani opened the space earlier this month with the intention of catering to a wide target group — the shopkeepers in the mall, the movie buffs the cinema hall attracts, the shoppers in general and the local residents.

There is nothing unpretentious about the place. It's simple and non-fussy divided into two sections — smoking and non-smoking zones. Sheesha is available in these intimate spaces boasting LCD screens, making it fit for a weekend blast with friends. But the party buffs will have to hold on as the liquor license is awaited. The salad bar, the live kitchen and a showcase with striking ceramic stuff and rare old black and white photographs evoking the British Raj, enliven the restaurant.

Open through the week from 11 a.m. till midnight, there is equal emphasis on all the three major meals of the day. For breakfast you can choose from vilayati and desi section offering omelettes in plain, ham, cheese and masala, bottle omelette, scrambled eggs on toast, pancakes and waffles, fresh fruit platter, samosa and bread pakora with ghugni, methi thepla, etc. Pandering to the demands of the health freaks, the joint also has an impressive list of shakes and juices. Devised in different combinations and permutations like apple, carrot, celery and mint, orange, papaya and fennel, rock melon, apple and basil, watermelon and mint, pineapple, kiwi and mint are simply fresh and rejuvenating. There are shakes and smoothies as well. In a bid to create a distinct identity, the restaurant has also started a tiffin service. It has four categories here — veg regular tiffin, veg premium tiffin, non-veg regular tiffin, non-veg premium tiffin with dishes like paneer makhani, dal makhani, mutton/chicken curry, vegetable, rice, roti, salad, pickle and dahi. In the upwardly mobile shopkeepers of the mall, the restaurant claims, the tiffins priced between Rs. 175 to Rs. 250, has already found many takers. The four-tiered steel carriages in which the meal is served is reminiscent of the lost times. Another highlight is the extensive salad bar. You have two options, either fill up a really huge bowl for Rs. 175 or go in for unlimited helpings at Rs.225. The roast chicken pineapple and cheese salad was full of flavours but a slightly crisper lettuce would have uplifted the dish. Out of the soup assortment what shines through is mutton curry soup, which is inspired by the mutton curry served to the Britishers in the first class cabin of the trains. The appearance belies its flavours. It looks extremely hot and spicy which it is not. The small succulent pieces at the bottom makes it even more delightful. Be it tandoori jheenga or the beer battered fish finger, they all score on its account of tenderness. While the prawns are not overdone with spices, the latter is little too oily. The grilled prawn with herb rice, basil, tomatoes with paprika choice is another signature dish of the restaurant. Prawns are little chewy but herbed rice and the unusual combination of tomatoes doesn't let it down. Also don't miss the Margherita Pizza and nazza, pizza on a naan.

SHAILAJA TRIPATHI

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