Wednesday 27 May 2015

Lunch at Desi Roots

This post is a bit overdue. It's so difficult to sit down and have some time to think about a post when you have an infant who decides that she just HAS to play with the laptop as soon as she sees you sit down in front of it :) 

About two weeks ago I was invited to Desi Roots in Ras Villas Mall, Saket. I've been wanting to visit ever since it opened a few months back, but unfortunately, it coincided with Adhi coming home and then Adhi pretty much made sure that she was and is, the center of our universe ever since :) Lately things have begun to settle down and so I finally got a chance to step out for a bit.

The first thing that peaked my interest in Desi Roots were it's interiors. I had seen a few images on my FB feed and was quite impressed with the grungy style which was contemporary, but with retro touches here and there- in short, something a little different from what I've seen before. Desi Roots is trying to do some interesting things to Indian food. It is taking Classic Indian food from different regions of India and coming up with interesting twists and reinventions, and this is reflected both in the restaurant's design and its food.

The bright & airy cafe area which is quite quirky and retro
[courtesy- Desi Roots]

Some desi comics to take you on a trip down memory lane
[courtesy- Desi Roots]

The restaurant has three distinct seating areas- an outer cafe which is bright, quite retro and takes you on a quirky trip down memory lane with images and memorabilia that conjure up childhood masti (Chanpak and Tinkles anyone?), an intermediate zone and the trendy and very contemporary bar area, that is my favourite space. I love the grungy exposed brick walls, the funky sofas in primary colors and the combination of wooden tables with colorful metal chairs. One of the more interesting features, and one I really liked, were the low partitions that had loads of locks on them. I found out at the end of my meal that each patron gets to sign the lock and hang it up on the partition and you take home the key! Such a cool tradition!

The bar & lounge area

Customers enjoying an afternoon drink at Desi Roots

The famous locks

I'm someone who has always prefered starters to mains, when it comes to Indian cuisine, especially if I'm eating alone. That way I get to try a lot of things, tapas style :) After trying a number of the smaller bites on offer at Desi Roots, the Biryani croquettes and the deconstructed samosa really stood out. 

I Loved the modern presentation of the deconstructed samosa- it looked nothing like the traditional samosa! And yet, it tasted just like a samosa should, perhaps even better. As much as I love samosas, I can rarely get through one because it's so heavy. But this was light and so fresh and so hip. I guess that sums up the essence of what Desi Roots is trying to achieve with their food. Modernising Indian food, making it 'hip', but respecting the original dish at its core. 

Deconstructed samosa

Amandeep Singh, whose concept Desi Roots is, explains, "There is no fanciness and trying to be too clever. The idea is to make Indian food cool and contemporary without compromising on the core, robust Indian flavours that we all know and love. They are unmistakable, just presented in a very modern and at times even quirky way."

The Biryani croquettes with salan aioli also stood out for me. I thought the idea of presenting biryani as a crisp croquette was really clever and again, from the beautiful presentation one would never guess that biryani is the inspiration and the heart of this plate of food. But after one bite the distinctive flavour is there. The only issue I had was that I wanted even more flavour and, if I were to be super critical, the croquettes felt a bit heavy on the palate after a few bites. 

Biryani croquettes

Another one not to miss are the chicken tikkas marinated in chipotle and served on a smoking iron. The chicken was soft, tender and had a delicious smokey flavour that would be a perfect accompaniment to any drink. 

Chipotle chicken tikkas

Galawati pate

But my absolute favourite thing that I tried on the menu was the galawati pate. What a cool idea to serve galawati, which is a kebab that has quite a smooth, almost pasty texture, in a jar with bits of sheermal to accompany it. I loved the idea and jokingly told Amandeep that I was going to do this at the next dinner party I hosted. 

I also have to mention that I had the most delicious kheer here. It's called Jamaluddin ki kheer and Amandeep insisted I try it, explaining that they get it in everyday from the famous Jamaluddin's kheer shop near Badal Bed masjid in Old Delhi.

Desi Roots is a must visit and I definitely plan to drop in again and try out some of the mains this time. I thoroughly enjoyed whatever I tried there and loved the ambience. The team seem to have successfully created a place that everyone could enjoy, whether it be for a romantic meal with that special someone, a night out with friends or a family dinner. But more importantly, I like the direction they are taking with their food, by making it hip and modern, but not too fancy and still very much pocket friendly. 

And that's my little signed lock :)

*Please note that this review is based on my experience when I was invited for a meal at Desi Roots

[All images clicked by Shalini Pereira unless otherwise mentioned. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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