Delhi

Food for thought

Ginger lemon chicken

Ginger lemon chicken | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When the heat is such that you can fry an egg on the pavement, you tend to think of the mountains. In those good old days when ‘Corona’ was just a harmless footwear brand, we would head for the hills as the mercury soared.

Manali and Landour were my favourite destinations, not just for the cool air but also the food that we ate there. And though Mussoorie was just a few kilometres from Landour, I stayed away — because the restaurants there had nothing much to offer.

My friends, however, kept raving about the food served at Kalsang in Mussoorie, so much so that during a trip to the hill station some years ago, I stopped by the small restaurant on the Mall Road for a meal. And I was greatly disappointed. Most dishes were a violent red in colour and chilli hot in nature.

But I believe in forgiving and forgetting, so when I learnt that a branch of Kalsang had opened up in Delhi (158, Tibetan Colony, Majnu Ka Tila) and was delivering food to my part of the city, I promptly placed an order.

I asked for a plate of lemon and ginger chicken (₹407), chicken special chop suey (₹389), double fried pork dry (₹341) and chef’s vegetable basket in sauce (₹328). I must say right at the beginning that either Kalsang has changed, or I have mellowed with age. For the meal, indeed, was superb.

 Vegetable basket

 Vegetable basket | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Edible basket

I started with the vegetable basket. The basket itself was edible – shaped like a birds’ nest and made with potato fries. The vegetables — seasonal veggies, with baby corn and asparagus — came with a spicy sauce. I had that, and then tried out the chicken. This was rather good too. The gravy, light and gingery, had small pieces of sliced lemons in it, which gave zest to the taste.

Chilli pork

Chilli pork | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Next on the menu was my favourite meat dish — pork. The last few times I had ordered pork (from a well-known Chinese eatery in central Delhi), I found the meat stringy and hard. Kalsang’s pork was just right — soft and melty, with fat on the sides. I had that with some steamed rice prepared at home, and then went on to another of my favourites — chop suey.

I first had this dish several years ago at the Howrah railway station, where the Great Eastern Hotel had a small outlet. I remember being wowed by the crunchiness of the noodles, and the soft texture of the meat-heaped gravy that it came with. It’s been a favourite ever since, and I have had many happy encounters with the dish at restaurants such as Ichiban.

This one didn’t disappoint me either. The gravy had succulent pieces of chicken in it, along with a host of vegetables, including silky mushrooms. The sauce was thick, and the noodles were deliciously crunchy — and stayed crispy even when I poured the chicken and gravy over it. I made a great meal out of it, and then ended the meal with some home-cooked suji halwa.

Thai and Tibetan menu

Kalsang has food from other parts of Asia. It has an impressive Thai menu (red curry ₹671 for prawn; ₹467 for pork). The Tibetan menu included chicken shaptak — thinly sliced chicken with onion, garlic and spices (₹414) and vegetable shabhalay (deep fried pie filled with green vegetables) for ₹239. On the Bhutanese list is ema datshi – prepared with cheese and chillies (₹281).

All in all, I had a satisfying meal. I ate some of my favourite dishes, and, along with it, a large chunk of humble pie.


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Printable version | May 15, 2022 1:56:03 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/food-for-thought/article65414267.ece