Some fine flavours

Royal Restaurant Photo Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Royal Restaurant Photo Shiv Kumar Pushpakar   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

For a royal repast, Royal restaurant needs to work on its baigan ka bharta

I was at my sister’s on the eve of Rakhi, and she had called a cook home to prepare some special dishes for the family. Jagannathji prepared a great many dishes, but I was most impressed with his malai kofta. The balls with paneer (and perhaps a bit of cheese) were soft and indeed melted in the mouth. The gravy was thick with greens and spices, and went really well with the puris that had been fried.

That, I suppose, was on my mind when I went to Royal restaurant in Connaught Place a few days ago. Actually, I had gone there in search of puris and aloo prepared in desi ghee at Tiwari’s, a well established vegetarian chain. As it turned out, Tiwari’s had gone in for renovations and was shut (but I shall go back there in a few weeks and tell you all about it). So I went instead to Royal, which is on the same line of shops. If you know Kake da hotel – famous for its chicken dishes – you’ll find Royal easily.

The restaurant is small, but pretty popular. There is a sitting area and a kitchen behind it. Some of the food is prepared in front of you, in big pateelas. The owner, Gurbaksh Bakshi, stands outside, welcoming people in. The restaurant has been around for 50 or 60 years, and has a loyal clientele.

I asked for a plate of malai kofta (Rs.150), palak paneer (Rs.145) and baigan bharta (Rs 135). I also asked for some tandoori rotis (Rs 8 a piece). I carried this for lunch, to be shared by a group of friends. I was happy with the malai kofta, though Jagannathji’s offering was better. Here, too, the koftas were nice and soft, and the gravy well spiced. The palak paneer was rather good, too. The gravy had been thickened with spinach leaves, and the paneer pieces were large and fresh. Neither of the dishes was too hot, which was quite a surprise, because I often find that restaurants tend to overdo the chilli factor in vegetarian dishes.

The baigan bharta, however, was disappointing. In our house, bharta is cooked in two ways – for me, after the eggplant is roasted, it’s well fried with tomatoes, onions and green chillies. The others at home like it without tomatoes. The roasted eggplant is mashed with chopped onions, green chillies and mustard oil. But Royal’s was neither here nor there. It didn’t have the dominant taste of roasted eggplant – which is really what a good bharta is all about. To me it seemed as if it had just been boiled. But perhaps it had been roasted and just not fried well with the masalas.

I think their forte is paneer—indeed there are a great many paneer dishes on the menu. But I like my bharta and took a chance on that. I suppose I should have asked for their channa masala (Rs 135) or the arhar dal (Rs 130). But the helpings are good, and four of us made a good meal out of the three dishes.

The good news is that the food is fresh, and the restaurant is right in the heart of the city. Now all that they have to do is take some tips from our formidable cook about baigan ka bharta. Once they’ve cracked that, it would be a Royal repast, indeed.

Address: 81, Municipal Market, CP – phone numbers: 011-23411338 and 65390404

(the writer is a seasoned street food connoisseur)

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 6:45:46 AM |

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