New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) Aiming to stay in the lead in the brutal race for survival, restaurants are thinking of more innovative, quirky ideas to stay in the game. Piali – The Curry Bistro is one such, trying to spice things up by introducing almost a half century of curries, a staple found in almost all Indian kitchens.
“Curry is something that all of us have a craving for; so why not introduce this versatile staple in different forms,” owner Siddharth Aggarwal stated while speaking to IANS.
Piali is located in-between the hustle and bustle of Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place), on the radial road opposite PVR Plaza. With a seating capacity of 72, it is divided into three sections – lounge, bar and the dining area. The interiors are classic contemporary, with a wooden floor and a wooden ceiling. Accompanied with heavy drapes and plush seating, the lighting is kept dim and mellow.
Asked what makes Piali different from the overcrowding contenders in the area, Aggarwal said: “We are not a place just to grab a drink and a plate of munchies; we are somebody who wants to feed you good food, food that reminds you of home, a meal basically and not a stopover.”
Piali boasts of 42 curries on the menu and has future plans of introducing more. Right now they are only limited to Asian curries. Due to the very recent availability of the liquor licence, the option in drinks is also limited. They hope to ramp up the second week of July.
So, to start my foodie trail, I was first served two rum-based cocktails – Black Beauty, a mix of white rum, passion fruit pulp, pineapple and coconut juice; and Rum Boline, rum mixed with cranberry juice and peach syrup. Both the cocktails were on the sweeter side, but potent nevertheless.
For appetisers, I got to sample the corn tempura, pepper mutton fry, Jaffna black pepper prawns and roasted chicken spring rolls with caramelised onion. All four dishes were very tasty, especially the prawns, which were tender and the spices gave you an instant hit of coastal flavours. The spring rolls were exquisite, crisp with a golden brown perfection and the caramelised onion gave it the sweet kick. However, they were served with a sweet tamarind chutney which was a let down because too much sweetness left the dish on the edge of becoming a dessert.
The corn tempura reminded you of ‘pakodas’ made at home on cold rainy nights. It was comfort food at its best. The mutton dish, unfortunately, bordered on being a let down. Thought I could grow to like it after a few bites, the taste and lack of flavours did not help.
Out of the 42 curries on Piali’s menu, I sampled eight. The first one that really stood out was martaban meat – lamb cooked in an earthen jar used for storing pickles. It tasted very similar to achari meat, the spice was not overwhelming. It was served with a laccha paratha. The second dish was ambul thiyal, a traditional Sri Lankan fish curry served with steamed rice. This dish was also the perfect melange of spices with a tinge of sweetness. The fish was melt-in-the-mouth.
The third dish which was a reminder of home-cooked comfort food was the lamb Madras curry. A perfect blend of south Indian spices, this dish was reminiscent of a curry cooked in a traditional Tamil household. The fourth was the infamous aab chingri: a Bengali dish comprising prawns cooked in a mustard and coconut milk curry. A little on the tangier side, this dish was excellent nonetheless.
The next two were vegetarian mains: Amritsari cholley and bhutta methi malai. A pleasant surprise for a hardcore non-vegetarian like me, both the dishes were knockouts.
However, two dishes were disappointments. A Sri Lankan curry called tea country pork curry was not too great on the flavours. The pork pieces felt very ‘canned’ and hard. The second let down was the Burmese chicken curry. When anyone orders a dish that is a little alien, the expectations are usually high to taste something unique, but again this dish was just another ‘chicken curry’.
To conclude the meal, I was served two desserts – pineapple halwa tart and rum flambe gulab jamun with vanilla ice cream. The first one hit the spot but the latter could do better.
Where: K 41, Level 1, Opposite PVR Plaza, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Timings: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Cost for two: Around Rs 1,200
(The writer’s visit was at the invitation of Piali – The Curry Bistro. Karishma Saurabh Kalita can be contacted at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>)