Bhutanese Kati Patang Beer
Monsoon by Cafe Lota, is the name but if you’re expecting your basic chai and pakodas here, you’ve got it wrong. This new place in the region’s latest hipspot, Aerocity is much more than that, as Udit Maheshwari, who trained from Le Cordon Bleu, London, tells me.
But then he’s also not just a chef, he’s everything rolled into one and as far as I can see, doing a neat job of it. “You sit here and get the feel of the rains lashing against you, in a Goan courtyard facing out into the sea, as you dip into the flavours of a diverse India,” he says.
Indian grains, Indian flavours from the various states and yet married into a bit of western sensibility and you have food that resembles, in presentation and spirit, a lot of the international cuisine that you taste on your travels abroad.
I’m not too great a fan of mix-match food, so it’s only fair to say that I was skeptical about the taste. But then, they do a good job of it and you have an amazing smorgasbord of fusion food that’s not weird and certainly very soul-satisfying.
Of course, like most people, I’ve eaten at their flagship store — the airy Cafe Lota, at the Crafts Musem in Pragati Maidan, where I love the Kathal Biryani and the Assamese Black Chicken, so this venture by the same people did get my interest.
Here’s what I thought about this small, cosy, unpretentious place in the hub of all the action in Aerocity. Monsoon By Cafe Lota is a passionate take on introducing and sustaining one’s culture through our traditional grains and thereby supporting our farmers and bringing in the best of fresh, local and organic produce to our tables in an interesting, innovative menu.
I say unpretentious, because the emphasis is all on the food, with very simple, basic interiors. It is the brainchild of three entrepreneurs cum friends who founded the Melting Pot Food Company with their common love for food, friends, family and alongwith it, a love for nature and the environment.
You have Rajesh Ojha, the co- founder of Banjara Camps, then Ashish Arora, a sales professional who runs a resort in Uttarakhand and finally, Iona Sinha, a former advertising professional who runs a cafe in Himachal. Their other restaurants are the Roots-Cafe in the park in Gurgaon, the Triveni Terrace Cafe in Triveni Kala Sangam and they also do special Lota tiffins.
At Monsoon By Cafe Lota, I’d say, go for their herbal teas, the single estate coffees or their interesting mocktails like the refreshing Elderflower Spritzer (made with elderflower syrup and seedlip spice). Appetisers like the Yoghurt and Cheese Croquettes made with hung curd from Kalimpong cheese, the Monsoon Fried Chicken that’s marinated in mint coriander masala is a good bet.
For the main course, order the appams made from different grains and team that with the Kerala Mulakittathu Fish (whole fillet of sole marinated in a spicy masala, cooked in the tandoor) or the Keema Gujiya (orange scented goat mince encased in spinach shortcrust pastry) or even the Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken breast with chicken mince, mushrooms and spinach with makhani curry served with pudina parantha).
They have ‘plate’ options in small and large that are really complete meals with curries served with breads. My favourites, however, were the Jau and Meat stew (boneless goat meat with spices, barley and pulses) and the Tamarind Fish (Tilapia fish coated in tamarind and oyster glaze served on tempered spinach with a moilee). These two, with the fluffy appams were outstanding!
Dont forget to order your beer or wine on the side. The Bhutanese Kati Patang Beer is quite a hit and I thought that was better than the Snappy wheat beer, that was a bit heavy, with these kind of meals.
For the desserts, I’d recommend the Salted Caramel Kheer (barnyard millet with salted caramel, jaggery and roasted almonds) that is big on both health and taste and of course, if you like chocolate, the one to try is the Chocolate Torte that’s organic with 60 percent dark chocolate served on a crispy pearl millet base.
You’d come back, fully satiated without burning a hole in your pocket too. Cafe Lota fans and new converts would do well, to come here.
Soul food, happy food.
Monsoon By Cafe Lota
Aerocity, Lower Ground Floor
Meal for two: 1500