A feast that tickles the mind and the palate

FOOD COURT

In foggy winter when theatre comes calling at Mandi House, one awaits not just the assortment of plays but also a huge variety of snacking options that suddenly proliferate in the lawns of National School of Drama (NSD) during Bharat Rang
Mahotsav (BRM).

Those who normally satiate themselves with the fragrance of freshly brewed tea and samosas, are unable to restrain themselves at the sight of the variety that is available at the much-loved ‘food hub’.

This year, however, the NSD lawns have taken on the avatar of a more fetching and organised  ‘food court’ with stalls neatly lined in a row to serve some lip-smacking dishes during the 16th BRM. Metrolife initiates its journey from the typical Indianised-chow mein at Shivram Chaat Bhandar. High in vinegar and turning the tongue sour, the chow mein makes way for the subtle taste of Moong Dal Chila which is selling like hot cakes!
Its taste, however, fails to impress Metrolife as theatre-lovers relish “Steaming
hot pao bhaji and even gol gappas in Delhi winter. But I wonder why people are not going for momos,” says a perplexed Shivram, owner of the stall.

Barely few steps ahead, is a delight in store for die-hard non-veg foodies as Talat
Mahmood Khan dishes out mouth-watering chicken biryani and shami kebab. “The chicken biryani is selling the most, in fact it gets over sooner than our expectations and we have to bring in more from our shop at Turkman Gate,” informs the elated man by the positive response while Metrolife tucks in the succulent pieces of chicken after dipping them in hot coriander-amchur chutney, which balances its taste and completes the experience.
Though winding one’s way through the crowd is a task, the Paniyarams fried at M. Babu Mani Caterers stall are too appealing to resist.

The crunchy outer-layer hides a tender centre comprising “Idli rice, dosa rice, Chennai dal paste and vegetable mix which is mixed well to be poured into a special kadai with hollows, like in an idli stand,” says M Babu serving some deliciously hot sambar with coconut chutney.

For those  with a yen for regional cuisine, there is much more in store with a stall selling Bihar’s favourite dish litti chokha and another offering innumerable Rajasthani
dishes. Though the litti is nice and crisp, the chokha tastes a little under-cooked but there is no dearth of ghee dripping from both.

The delectable Pyaaz ki Kachori is by all counts a winner at the Babu Lal Caterers’ stall from Nagaur district in Rajasthan. “We stuff this kachori with sabut masala such as dhaniya, lal mirch, zeera, saunf and namak to mix it in maida and fry,” says cook Durga Ram as he points towards dal baati churma, moong dal pakori and Jodhpuri mirchi bada that is also available at the stall.

To sign off, there is enough choice in terms of desserts such as exhaustive mawa kachori at the same Rajasthani stall or plum Jaleba, rotund gulab jamun, gooey gajar ka halwa at Lala Matu Ram’s stall from Haryana. Load your plate with these  and head to the tented area nearby to enjoy a little chat as angithis placed alongside provide
the required warmth to your discussions.

The food court is in place at NSD till January 19.

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