Food

Hot and happy

Behind the restaurant are two young sisters — Neeti and Smriti — who thought of opening a Mexican eatery because that’s one cuisine which has somehow not found its place in the sun in Delhi.

Behind the restaurant are two young sisters — Neeti and Smriti — who thought of opening a Mexican eatery because that’s one cuisine which has somehow not found its place in the sun in Delhi.  

If you belong to the generation that grew up reading – and reading about – Octavio Paz, you’ll have a special relation with Mexico. And if you are younger, then there’s even better reason to connect: Mexico is hot. And I am not just talking about poetry, but also food.

I had a glimpse of Mexico earlier this week in Khan Market. I had been invited to try the food out at a new restaurant called La Bodega. I must say I was quite floored by the eatery. One, the food is good. Two, the ambience is happy. And that’s a wonderful combination.

The first floor is the busy part of the restaurant – full of young people out for lunch. I had a good feeling when I saw, right at the entrance, a wide shelf with fresh and colourful veggies. The second floor, where I sat, was warm, sunny and well lit – because it led to an open air sitting area. The colours were cheerful and the experience was vastly enjoyable.

Behind the restaurant are two young sisters — Neeti and Smriti — who thought of opening a Mexican eatery because that’s one cuisine which has somehow not found its place in the sun in Delhi. So they travelled to and fro, did their research, got an excellent chef from Mexico, and came up with a restaurant that offers all kinds of street food items as well a nice list of main dishes and desserts.

I tried out quite a few dishes. From the street food section, I ate a braised duck taco served with refried beans, pico de gallo (a kind of kuchumber salad) and guacamole, a thick avocado sauce. I tried out the tostadas — camaron salteado, or shrimps with salsa Mexicana and chipotle mayo, and champiñones al ajillo, garlic mushrooms served with guajillo chilli, refried beans, sour cream and fresh cheese. All three were excellent, but I particularly liked the garlicky mushrooms on the salty refried bean sauce.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the salad that followed – betabel, a delicious mix of roasted beetroot, fresh feta cheese, oranges, caramelised nuts and mixed greens. The quesadilla, tinga de pollo con queso – a soft corn flour wrap with a stuffing of pulled chicken with onions, chipotle chilli and tomato with cheese – was rather nice, too. I liked the sharp taste of onions and chillies, countered by the soft cheese and tart tomatoes.

By the time the main course came, I was full to the gills. I asked them to cancel the fish that had been recommended, and decided to just focus on the cochinita pibil — slow cooked pulled pork cooked with achiote in a banana leaf and served with refried beans, marinated pineapple and fresh tortillas. The pork was soft and the sauce a nice mix of flavours. Achiote, I am told, is a seed which gives both colour and a sweetish-spicy flavour to food.

I had virtuously told myself I wouldn’t touch the dessert — tres leches, cooked with three kinds of milk, served with Chantilly cream and seasonal fruits – but found myself weakening the moment I saw it and had my first spoonful. It was so good that I almost finished it.

The prices vary. The street food prices range between Rs.375 and 425, fish dishes are between Rs.500 and 925 and meat Rs.595-925 (the latter for the Australian lamb shank). The restaurant will open a counter at the ongoing Palate Fest at Nehru Park where it will offer smaller portions of its street food at lower rates.

This is a place that I have to go back to. Hola compañeros!

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 9:24:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/hot-and-happy/article6643165.ece

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