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Finding khorika

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Mustard Seed brings back old memories of pork in Delhi, plus makes a few new ones

I feel sorry for the poor pig. It’s nothing personal, I want to tell them. But when it comes to pork, all’s fair in love, war – and food. In Delhi, pork is usually served in Chinese eateries, and in some high-end restaurants. But it’s not easy to find regional dishes such as Goa’s Sorpotel or the Coorgi Pandhi Curry.

One of the first to offer a variety of pork dishes was a restaurant in Connaught Place called Mosaic, which shut many years ago, and later took some of its dishes to the YWCA Kitchen on Parliament Street. But that’s been closed for a while, too.

To cut a long story short, it was my fondness for pork that propelled me towards a restaurant called Mustard Seed. As it happened, a friend had sent a message saying that the restaurant at Assam Bhavan (called Baankaahi) had moved to the Uphaar Cinema Market. I was looking for that on the internet when I suddenly came across an eatery called Mustard Seed in the same market. To my surprise, it turned out to be the very same. The people who ran Baankaahi had now opened this. What’s more, they were the very people who were behind Mosaic and the YWCA Kitchen. To top it, a group of old friends of mine had all gathered there one afternoon for lunch — and said they'd had a great meal. So, that very evening, I found myself at Mustard Seed (011-40072565 and 9999459462).

The menu has various kinds of dishes from across the country and elsewhere— and quite a few pork preparations. The starters include East India’s much loved Mochar Chop (prepared with banana flower florets, ₹325), Thai Fish Cake (₹400 for full, ₹250 for half) and Pork Khorika (a variation of Pork Satay, ₹400 for full and ₹250 for half).

Among the entrees are Kosha Mangsho (₹475/300), Alka’s Mutton Curry (a Bhagalpur speciality, ₹475/300), Pork Dos Noing (Khasi pork with black sesame gravy, ₹400/250), Puducherry Chicken Curry (₹475/300), Dahi Fish (₹350/200), Seafood Sizzler (prawns, squids, fish, corn, salad, garlic mashed potatoes, ₹600) and Pork Sorpotel (₹500). The tea plantation specials include Shepherd’s Pie (₹475), Chicken Potpie (₹425), Fish and Chips (₹500), Vegetable Cutlets (₹350) and Vegetable Potpie (₹240).

We were in a hurry and did not want an elaborate meal. So we asked for an Assamese non-vegetarian thali (₹450), a dish called Paas Torkari (a mix of five vegetables, ₹325), Fried Pork (₹345/₹250 for half) and Cocktail Mutton Chops (₹400/250).

The pork came first, and was superb. It consisted of thin slices (with fat on the side, I was happy to note) fried with onions and bell peppers and what the menu described as a special sauce. I loved its piquant taste, complemented by the sweet touch of the onions and peppers. The mutton chops consisted of minced meat that had been crumbed and fried to perfection.

The thali was as grand as it looked: rice at the centre, with a fried brinjal (beguni), a bowl of Mung Dal, Posto-Aloo (poppy seeds with potatoes), Tenga Fish (an Assamese preparation), khar (a digestive), Aloo Pitkia (mashed potatoes) and Gur Ka Kheer. The Paas Torkari was a delicious mix of carrots, beans, spinach, capsicum and potatoes, cooked lightly with just a sprinkling of spices.

I love Aloo Pitika—and this had been nicely sharpened with mustard oil and green chillies. The dal — roasted and then cooked with peas—was superb. I didn’t have the fish, but was told it was nice and tangy. And the kheer was finger licking good.

Mindful of a friend’s comment that I seldom have a word of criticism, I thought hard about what I didn’t like. I realised what it was. In front of me was a wall TV, and on it was an anchor who gives me nightmares. That’s one way of curbing one’s appetite!

But it was truly a great meal. And I felt as if I had found an old friend.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 5:00:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/finding-khorika/article30123914.ece

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