The word standard, as far as I am concerned, translates to good food. Many years ago, Delhi was known for an elegant restaurant called ‘Standard’, just above what was then the Regal Cinema. It had a band that played western music, and offered, among other things, coffee and sandwiches. Years later, I discovered another eatery called ‘Standard’ in Shankar Road market, which later moved to a lane in Karol Bagh. The Regal Standard has shut down but the Karol Bagh Standard is going strong. It sells such delicious chholey bhaturey that some friends, who came to visit me when I was admitted to a hospital in the neighbourhood a while ago, spent more time at the eatery than by my bedside.
So, when I spotted a restaurant by the same name in Noida Sector 12, I was intrigued. I called them up to ask if they were related to the Karol Bagh Standard, or the old Layallpur walley Standard in Chawri Bazar. That, by the way, is another favourite and has on its menu all kinds of lip-smacking dishes such as puri chholey, khasta kachori and chholey bhaturey.
They are not related, I was informed. But I wasn’t disheartened, for what caught my interest was the fact that the Noida Standard had one of my favourite dishes —aloo puri — on the menu. I promptly placed an order for quite a few plates, for we had some friends coming over for dinner. Each plate of aloo puri has four puris with potato curry and comes for ₹73.
The food surprised me as I had feared that the puris would be cold, and once heated, they would turn either rubbery or flaky. But they didn’t. The puris were soft, despite the fibrous, bedmi-kind of texture. The accompanying potato curry was superb. Some of the potatoes had got mashed into the gravy, as they are meant to, and the sabzi itself was deliciously light, cooked with just some basic spices such as cumin and hing. It had a pleasant lemony colour, which is a hue that somehow adds to the taste when it comes to aloo ki sabzi. We enjoyed it, as did the friends, judging by the way the puris disappeared from the table.
The thought of chholey bhaturey, however, was still on my mind, so two days later I ordered some from our neighbourhood sweet-and-namkeen shop, Bhatia Sweets (Balco Market, IP Extension). Bhatia has some excellent sweets and is especially known for its Bengali kancha golla. But its savouries such as bread pakoras, aloo tikkis and dhokla have their loyal patrons too. The fare is fresh, and the prices are reasonable: we paid ₹251 (with delivery charges) for one plate of aloo puri and three bhatureys with chholey.
Bhatia’s food was not bad at all. I liked the soft bhatureys and the somewhat spicy chholey, and greatly enjoyed biting into the pickled carrots and green chillies that came with it. But its puri sabzi didn’t match up to Standard’s. It may have been nostalgia — Standards, after all, are old friends of mine — but I was happy to note that the new Standard had kept the standard flying.