Honestly I was less than enthused and blithe when I set out in search of Bawarchi. And a search it was, involving a lot of craning of the neck, straining of the eyes and poking on the shoulders of unsuspecting strangers to interrogate them about directions. When we finally reached this quotidian-looking restaurant in Punjabi Bagh Extension, I was beginning to wonder about what I had got myself into. The jejune interiors and the sugary mojito that I sampled first did nothing to heighten the spirits.
The interiors are understated.
But life has its unexpected surprises. Sometimes pleasant ones. This edition of Bawarchi was set up in Punjabi Bagh about 3-4 months ago (they have been around longer in Bangkok and Gurgaon). They serve Indian and Thai (I only tried the Chicken satay; it was fairish) and are yet to get a liquor licence. On their insistence I had a crack at the Khaas paneer tikka. Very simp tico! With a crust of poppy seeds, it's an ingenious innovation on the run-of-the-mill Paneer tikka.
The Sharaabi chicken tikka
The Sharaabi chicken tikka that arrived next was on fire, literally. I relieved the overwrought attendant of his agony and dug into it. The texture was just right and the flavour was, well, quite spirited. But I recommend you wear a non-flammable outfit while sampling it.
Main course comprised Dal makhani, Mixed vegetables, Bakra rara, Saada chawal, Lasooni naan and Lacha parantha. Oodles of restaurants manage to screw up the Dal makhani every day. Traditionally, it is cooked on a low charcoal flame for hours, which gives it that rich, creamy texture. I have a hunch that's not how they do it at Bawarchi. But the end product is quite zestful. The Bakra rara was very delectable as well; with a strong whiff of cloves and cinnamon.
I signed off with a combo of Gulab jamun and Ice cream. Any bonehead can put it together, but is there anything better? Well, it hit the spot. The Dum Pukhts and Moti Mahals have no reason to start quivering in their boots yet, but there's a new player in Delhi's Wild West.
At: Bawarchi, 22, North West Avenue, Club Road, Punjabi Bagh Extension
Timings: Noon to 11.30 pm
Meal For two: Rs 800+taxes