The worldwide opinion on the deconstructed food cuisine and molecular gastronomy has swung from impassioned to inescapable boredom over the past few years, and Connaught Place in 2016 may be just the right occasion to figure out whether we really enjoy reverse-spherified mishti doi and raseela aaloo reduction, free from the compulsion to adore or snark on principle.
We are hence looking forward to dining at the new branch of Farzi Café where Zorawar Kalra serves creative, gastronomified Indian cuisine at quite reasonable prices.
The CP Curse Lives On
Armed with a friend who’s visited Cyber City Farzi Cafe to help us compare, we stroll into a warm room struck in greys and golds, imagining ourselves parked at the long bar for after-work drinks. Disappointingly, here too, the CP curse abides: there’s scarcely a bar in the area where you aren’t competing with DJ Snake and Major Lazer to make yourself heard, and sure enough, Farzi features a music console at one end of the restaurant from where DJs play an out-of-date top 40 list.
Squashing the desire to slouch off to the dive next door for a dose of Kumar Sanu and Old Monk, you can order a couple of mocktails (Farzi is still waiting on a liquor license).
Farzi OK, a kaffir lime, and orange juice mixture arrives in a mason jar with freshness and tang that is worth the money spent on it. Every bit as good is Italian Smooch, which jumbles the ingredients of a mojito with ginger ale and Coke.
Tapas are generously portioned, however, they are less exciting. If you hate bitter gourd you might like bitter gourd calamari, which aggressively extinguishes our favorite vegetable in a mango chutney reminiscent of store-bought choondo (an Indian pickle used in cuisine).
A smoked bacon pyaaz ki kachori (onion kachoris) cleverly combines two closely overlapping tastes, the twin umami saltiness of the bacon and the North Indian street snacks.
You must have heard so much about the Farzi Fried Chicken but I suggest you to not give it even a try. It might happen that you order it as soon as you are seated and almost sent it back just as quickly when it arrives in a toy truck, as though you would be on some me-too terrace jostling with underage drinkers in Hauz Khas Village (HKV).
Weeknight diners looking to bludgeon their taste buds may enjoy this as comfort food: the crust has the flavor and texture of an hours-old samosa, but the chicken is tender and the complementing hand-cut Salli (potato, jackfruit, and tapioca), glorious.
You can give a try to masala poha with baked egg curry which has the potential to improve your meal. The poha is made slightly al dente with bell peppers; it is light and a perfect complement to the baked egg, with a curry on the side robust and spicy.
I would recommend the rasmalai con tres leches, which sounds like a meal in itself but this is another pleasant surprise after delicious poha. A milky confection layered with carrot cream and garnished with rose petals, it is something a 19th century Kolkata confectioner would have been pleased to serve to an Awadhi prince in exile.
It’s The Little Things
It is quite funny to end a heavy meal thinking longingly of the little palate-cleansers served in between the courses, yet this is exactly what we are doing. The chefs exhibit their chops by sending out 3 tiny, perfectly-composed amuse-bouches at intervals.
A glob of salted caramel mishti doi has the texture of zabaglione (an Italian sweet) and an airy sweet-sour-saltiness that announces itself in the mouth with untarnished timing; frozen pops of reconstructed khandvi (a Gujarati dish) topped with jaggery sauce makes people forget their disappointment with the fried chicken; and cotton-white candy-floss, pressed like gujiya (an Indian sweet) and stuffed with a paan reduction, is the most fabulous of mouth fresheners.
It is the food that makes us smile and makes us think. When we go back to Farzi on pub nights with our friends, these are the things we will surely be dreaming of.
Address/location of the Farzi Cafe:
Farzi Cafe, Second Floor, E 38/39, Rajiv Chowk. It is a few doors down from United Coffee House.
Cost for two:
A big meal for 2,800 INR without alcohol.