Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moolchand Paranthewala - total paisa vasool

Every taxi driver in Delhi knows that when night-time hunger pangs hit you, the place to go is Moolchand.

Nondescript thela, favourite night haunt of all truckers, cab drivers, and late night party fiends

Paratha in progress - scalded by fire. The flames go whoosh, and the paratha turns out crisp and brown

The assistant at the back rolls out the parathas and tosses it in one smooth movement, it lands unerringly on the far edge of the pan.

Then the guy with the tongs moves them around. Four or five parathas are usually underway at a time, because there's always demand. The anda-paratha is popular, so there's always a stock of eggs.

Hot parathas stacked, waiting to be handed to a long list of buyers.
Lots of people eat here, but many people come and take-away stuff too.

Usual accompaniment - a simple but delicious raita ladled out in plastic cups

Trademark garnish - fried chillies and chaat masala

We ordered the basic aloo paratha. It arrived so hot that we scalded our fingers. We wolfed it down in seconds.
Absolutely delicious. I'm definitely going back again!

Post script 2015: Moolchand has now moved near the Moolchand Metro station, near Cafe Coffee Day. See the Zomato entry for map location, phone number etc.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Independence Day

The Prime Minister addressed the nation today from the Red Fort. He spoke on many difficult issues facing India today - corruption, education, gender discrimination, agriculture, economic development, and so on.

For me, the most important thing to take away from the speech were simply the last few words:
We should have faith that our democracy, our institutions and our social ideals and values have the capacity to deal with any difficulty. We should all have faith in ourselves. The faith that we can build a promising future for ourselves. The faith, that united we can do the most difficult of tasks. Let us all resolve to build a bright future for our country.

Given the enormity of some of the issues facing the country, this "faith" has become a matter of great difficulty for Indians. In private parties, on facebook and other social forums, I see my friends constantly expressing protest and anger. The primary emotion is NEGATIVE. There is a feeling of victimization, of powerlessness, transforming into frustrated anger.

But I ask all my friends - are you really powerless? Really? There are so many ways - hundreds and hundreds of ways - in which you can make a difference to your country. Go find them! Find those ways, and instead of just sitting at your computer screen and cribbing, go DO something. It's a heck of a lot better use of your energy!

Protest is an important aspect of citizenry. But absolutely nothing is achieved by pulling down an edifice, unless *you* are actively building another one.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A working lunch

When we feel like a hearty Punjabi lunch, my colleague Ranjeet and I usually end up going to Cosy. It is in Huaz Khas, close to our Shahpur Jat office, and very convenient.

Cosy is a typical value-for-money establishment - dim interiors, basic furniture, standard crockery - that produces excellent mid-priced food. The menu is exactly what you expect; it has all the usual Punjabi suspects! :) As long as you don't stray from the formulaic stuff, you can be sure it will taste good.

I am particularly fond of the 'Cosy Special Paneer', a creamy but spicily rich paneer concoction that draws me to this restaurant again and again. Combined with a crisp missi roti to mop it up, this is the kind of food that never fails to satisfy.

See what I mean by "all the usual Punjabi suspects"? :) :)

On the table you can see the regulation mint chutney, raita, my favourite paneer, golden yellow missi roti, black daal garnished with cream, onions, lemon, and a great biryani. We usually finish off this kind of meal with chaaj, thin buttermilk flavoured with ginger, chillies and coriander.

I like Cosy because it is really unpretentious. They are not infected by 'modern' concepts of smiling customer service - what you'll get is a simple basic greeting (more like a grunt) when you enter the restaurant. Then some guy in an ancient shirt will eventually come around to take your order. No fancy English is spoken here, the only language that works is Hindi.

Usually we have lots of work related things to discuss while we wait for the food. Cozy provides the perfect no-pretense ambiance, really, you can talk as much as you like without worrying about disturbing other diners. Food doesn't take too long to be served, which leads me to think they have an efficient team behind the scenes. The restaurant is usually full around lunch time.

By the time we finish the meal we're in a pretty mellow state, and don't much feel like working. The only solution is to return to the office and have the hot lemon tea that Abhi, our office assistant makes so well !