A spicy debut at Delhi’s Potbelly Café

If you have a pot belly and hate spicy food, chances are you’re on the right path to lose some extra kilos. But there’s one condition – you would have to visit The Potbelly Rooftop Café in south Delhi’s Shahpur Jat area.

Apparently famous for serving Bihari cuisine, the café makes food that is uniformly spicy. The curries are indistinct and have a certain sameness cooked into them. And mind you, I have had better litti chokha, three years ago at the National Book Fair in old Delhi.

I have been debating with friends and colleagues whether Bihari food should be spicy or not and I get different answers from all of them, including some who belong to Patna. “There’s probably nothing called Bihari food as such, except litti chokha or some snack like that. The food isn’t supposed to be very spicy and usually isn’t very different from what we eat here in Delhi,” one of them, who chose to remain anonymous, told me.

But chances are if you cringe at the taste of that little bit extra salt in your food, you would go back home on an empty stomach – just what your nutritionist ordered you to do. Isn’t it? Or, you’d go to sleep with some Apple lemonade and sweet lassi rolling in your bowels, like I did. I also topped it with a homemade ladoo before brushing my teeth. Thank god for mother’s obsession with making sweets at home!

So, here’s what ALL we ordered –

*Baggia basket – rice flour stuffed with spiced channa dal tempered with spices, served tomato chokha and coriander chutney

*Litti chokha – wheat balls stuffed with sattu (spiced gram flour), channa dal, aubergine and potato mash

*Mutton chaamp – thick gravy served with rice and boondi raita

*Madhubani thali – traditional aloo-chana dal sabzi with sattu pooris, onion pooris, oil pickle, teesi chutney and aubergine raita

*Bhojpuri thali – paneer and potato vegetable stew with sattu pooris, onion pooori, pickle, teesi chutney and aubergine

The restaurant is mostly indoors, where we sat. The rooftop section overlooks the Asiad village. There is no alcohol to serve.

Here’s the restaurant in pictures –

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On my way back, as I hailed an auto-rickshaw, I saw these shadows converging on a wall. It made for an interesting photo, I thought.

But my evening began with something more colourful – before it turned spicy – with a walk through the narrow lanes of the Shahpur Jat village, which has many boutiques such as these –

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Published by

Ankush Arora

Delhi boy; dreamer, nature lover, photographer. Development communications professional. Ex-Reuters, NDTV. This is a personal blog.

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