Order in dhaba ka khana
Chef Gaurav Gidwani's latest venture Indian Aroma is all about dishing out food that's rooted in authenticity and memory
Chef Gaurav Gidwani, the food and beverage director of The Bar Stock Exchange, has been on the hunt for the perfect butter chicken in Mumbai, ever since he discovered the real deal at the restaurants dotting Pandara Road in New Delhi. "I had headed there five days in a row to different restaurants, and was mind-blown by the butter chicken every time," he tells us. No wonder then, that the north Indian delicacy has not only made it to the short, crisp menu of his new delivery venture Indian Aroma, but is also already in demand since their launch over the weekend.
The lockdown has reminded us all that we're not above our cravings; there's always that occasional longing for some pindi chhole, or chicken tikka biryani with soothing raita. And that's mostly because these are dishes that we relate to, and hence, seek out for comfort, says Gidwani. "There's so much nostalgia that we associate with these dishes, and yet in my experience, I've found the lack of authenticity in such preparations. The idea was to bring together a tight, but relatable menu of dishes that take you to your happy place," shares the restaurateur, adding he'd been in talks with his partners, brother Rishee, and Jui Buch, about this for a while.
Each dish comes with a couple of kulchas
With time on their hands to finally get the show on the road, the trio decided to use Buch's kitchen set-up at BKC. Last week, they rolled out the menu of 12 to 15 items that embody the spirit that "you can never take India out of an Indian," Gidwani shares. We spot common favourites like paneer makhani, dum ka jhinga, chicken and paneer tikka biryanis, and dal makhani, among other items that one never usually says a no to. The dishes are priced weight-wise, from 250 gms to 1 kg, each served with burhani raita, kulchas, sirkewala pyaaz, achaar and mukhwas.
Gidwani — the one slaving over the hot stove, stirring in experiences from his travels, 20-year-old work life and his mother's meals — shares that ingredients and processes are both key to authenticity. "For instance, the dal makhani is not a jhatkaa one; it's prepared for over 24 hours like it's supposed to be. Similarly, for the dehati aloo gobi, the masala is prepared in a sil-batta [mortar-pestle]. That's how you get the characteristic dardarapan [course texture] in the masala."
Even before we properly unpack the dishes that Gidwani has delivered, the aromas work up our appetite. There are 250-gm portions of dal makhani (R250), pindi chhole (R250), butter chicken (R380), tariwala murg (R380), phirni (R99) with a couple of kulchas, sirkewala pyaaz and mukhwas. The food, we find, has a very dhaba-meets-ghar ka khana feel. The dal makhani is buttery, with a chulha-esque aroma; the chhole is spicy, rustic, and compliments the cotton-soft kulchas. The butter chicken is creamy, without being sweet, while the tariwala murg reminds us of the peppery chicken curry that's a Sunday staple at home. The phirni, too, is the right amount of sweet and is a light way to end the meal. We realise what Gidwani means when he talks about "food tickling memory and taking us to our happy place."
Indian Aroma is currently accepting orders across the city, and will soon be available on food aggregator apps. But, we are curious to know if Gidwani will expand the menu. "Yes. From time to time, we'll add hyper-local preparations from regions like Vidarbha and Karwar, so that we can offer glimpses of food from across the country," he signs off.
Chef Gaurav Gidwani
Call 9324846597 to place an order
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