In recent times, areas like Kalyani Nagar and Kharadi have been witnessing a remarkable spurt of restaurant growth while the ever-popular Koregaon Park, is witness to plenty of makeovers in terms of themes, management and cuisine.
|Pics: Mahendra Kolhe
Yet, the local foodie instinctively seems to gravitate towards places in Camp, FC Road and JM Road and the reason is simple, as I see it — for simple Indian food with a stress on taste. For superficial appeal (and high pricing), an international spread and grandly-named preparations, you know where you’ll be heading.
Rasoi — a new all-vegetarian restaurant at the Ramee Grand justifies its location on FC Road. No tongue-twisters on the menu, no elaborate descriptions... only authentic Indian food on offer. The menu is limited to a few varied vegetable preparations and a handful of rice and dal preparations.
The first to come to our table was their Mulligatawny Soup (Rs 100), which is originally a meat broth-based soup. Rasoi, however, has made the vegetarian version more tasteful than the meat-based one! The soup was extremely balanced, with simultaneous hints of curry leaf tempering, turmeric and other spices, and the creaminess of the lentil paste.
The use of fresh black pepper is a wonderful addition as well, and somehow, one isn’t really discomfited by the excess heat of the pepper. It had been a while since I tried that old favourite, the Hara Bhara Kebab (Rs 210), which is what I went for next. Here, they serve it with a cheese-filled centre, an added variation.
I was glad to see the original green of spinach, peas and coriander, not the artificial one from additives that is doused on a mixture of flour and potato. These kebabs were crumbly, with an uneven texture (which clearly indicated an additive-free preparation) and fitted with the trademark cashew on top.
I was also glad to see that the cheese in the centre had completely melted, showing that the kebabs were cooked properly, at a moderate temperature that let them retain that lovely golden greenish-brown colour.
We moved onto the main course, and went straight for their Paneer Pasanda (Rs 240), a rich dish that is rather tedious to prepare, yet not as appreciated as it should be.
Originally, ‘pasandas’ are prepared with fresh tomato puree, cashew paste and a fried onion paste for the gravy, while either a mixed pickle or green chutney is sandwiched between soft paneer pieces, then deep-fried in gram flour batter.
In commercial kitchens, one often finds more stress on cashew paste and less on tomato. Here too the preparation was heavy, creamy and had a thick cashew-laden taste. The paneer was stuffed with green chutney and bits of raisins and cashew. Overall, I enjoyed this version. The Lachcha Paratha (Rs 55) we had it with could have been a bit more flaky though.
We also ordered a Dal Bukhara (Rs 215). While traditional Dal Makhanis are said to be made of cream, tomato, whole urad dal and rajma, Bukharas are said to have only urad dal and are originally a trademark recipe invented by an old and reputed Indian hotel chain.
Rasoi has managed to keep the recipe intact, but nothing outstanding as such. The proportion of urad dal to tomato paste was a bit excessive and the spicing not ‘zingy’ enough. On the other hand, the Haryali Pulao (Rs 260) was rather full of whole spices and surprisingly yellow, rather than the expected greenish colour that comes with a coriander-spinach-methi paste.
Overall, I’d say Rasoi definitely satisfies simple Indian food cravings. The price factor is a bit on the higher side but is justified if in the plush ambience. In fact, I spotted plenty of families enjoying their dinners here as well — a good enough indicator of the simple goodness of the fare here.