- 25/11 Cenotaph 2nd Lane, Teynampet
- Hits: Hyderabadi hara bhara mushroom, Dabeli santrai kheer
- Cost for two: ₹2,000
Confession: My food ordering habits are getting out of hand. But it’s the festive season, so we best not speak about it until 2019. My problem isn’t about health or cost. It’s that I’d gotten into this rut of choosing from a roulette of Italian, American and Chinese food. That’s until we decided to dine at Bharat Bistro, the new Indian mutli-cuisine restaurant in town.
What a relief it is to have authentic Indian food, with dishes from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bengal and Delhi (Awadhi). You can either choose an entire meal or thali, or pair a gravy with a bread or rice. We flip through the menu, and immediately, my Bengali friend M, has decided she will have the ‘Mr Banerjee’s Sunday Lunch’ for the main course. Which of course, triggers the Andhraite in me, and I go for the Hyderabadi hara bhara: an onion-based gravy that has mushrooms stuffed with khova and cheese.
But first, we order the dabelis. In the double rotis of Kutch, we have found our midpoint. It arrives in a group of four buns, with a bowl of the masala on the side. The bread is buttered and burnt to just the right amount of crisp. Word to the wise: there’s no fun eating a lukewarm dabeli, so you better keep your phones away.
The masala, topped with sev, is tangy. Not as sweet as I remember the Maharashtrian dabelis to be, but they still work. They come with a side dish of crisp, spicy boondi that lends to the extra crunch. You can add peanuts and pomegranate seeds: a nice balance of sweet and salty pops in your mouth.
Next comes the main course of the Hyderabadi mushrooms. Our waiter has advised us to pair it with sun-dried tomato kulcha. (The bread section of the menu is interesting: ranging from the traditional Kabuli and Amritsari naan, and the lacha paratha, to the fusion food of sun-dried tomato kulcha, and jalapeño chilli and cheese kulcha). On first bite, the tomato kulcha seems odd, simply because you don’t expect your kulcha to taste like a pizza base. However, it works well with the gravy. The mushrooms are savoury and the cheese lends a chewy texture: a dish I would label the star of the courses.
The Bengali thali has luchis, with kosha mangsho (mutton), cholar dal, alu poshto (potatoes with poppy seeds) and begun bhaja. The luchis (picture smaller, lighter pooris) are satisfactorily oil-free and fluffy. The cholar dal, a thick mash of chickpea lentil similar to konda kadalai, has liberal doses of ghee and crunchy coconut slices. Mix it well with rice, and go to town on it. The begun bhaja, a deep-fried sliced eggplant, is tasty in its burnt spicy way, but may be too oily for some.
M tells me that the mutton, however, is disappointing and less spicy than a Bengali would be used to: nothing to write home about. The potato in the alu poshto seems a bit undercooked and dry, and has me reaching for my glass of water, which, by the way, is earthen.
For dessert, we choose bhapa doi, having pieces of steamed curd that look like idlis from a distance. Despite the impeccable presentation, flanked by cut strawberries, and the correct texture — solid enough for the fork to cut the curd smoothly — the taste is a little boring. Instead, I recommend the santrani kheer: a hollowed-out orange peel filled with kheer that has pieces of the fruit, set on a layer of sonpapdi. You can either have the (melt-in-your-mouth) sonpapdi separately or pour the orange kheer on to the sonpapdi and mix it for a sugar blast.