A year after Purva Indulkar visited Desi Deli in Bandra, she heads to their new Andheri outlet and finds the same commitment to offering excellent food
Imagine a crowded, noisy street, packed with traffic, with a small café comfortably nestled in a corner. Now, imagine people basking in the small oasis as the rest of the city zipped past. This could be a scene from a French masterpiece, like Amélie, or just another evening at Desi Deli. A year ago, I visited their Bandra outlet, which had a similar setting, and I had a delightful time trying things from their menu. This time too, I stepped into the calm retreat and time seemed to stand still for me to try what they had on offer.
I was greeted by Lolita Sarkar, the same charming lady who owns the Desi Deli in Bandra and who had welcomed me there a year ago. Their burgers have become overnight sensations on the internet and everyone from critics to hungry foodies love the spot. Watching and listening to her, I knew that this outlet too would offer the same homely vibe. The restaurant has an outdoor space that is littered with the usual wood tables and steel chairs, and simple décor with buckets of wild flowers lines the sides. The vibrant yellow and white hues, black chalkboards and a slightly unkempt kitchen add to the charm of the area. I must add that even though it’s a tiny space, they have managed to squeeze in a small, but well-kept washroom. The place has about six benches so it isn’t meant to be a noisy evening hot-spot for large groups interested in chugging beer and watching football. This is a spot for a relaxed (and budget-friendly) date or some catching up with a friend after a year apart (like I did).
Fusion on a plate
We began with their drinks and ordered an Iced Usquebaugh (Rs 120). The sweet and cold-brewed tea named after the owner’s farm has a refreshing lemongrass flavour. Their Cold Coffee (Rs 150) was a brown beverage that tasted quite run-of-the-mill. I then decided to try their Fried Chilli Desi (starts at Rs 195) — the sausage was soft, but it was the toppings of tangy mango mustard and crushed chips that made it the perfect breakfast. However, be careful; the hot dogs are quite large and the plates they’re served in are too small to hold them. Mine did a somersault before it went in my mouth!
For something more meaty, we ordered their Tangy Chic Burg (Rs 320), a spicy chicken burger with hara mayo. A new offering at their Andheri outlet is their Burg in a Bowl (add Rs 50 to whichever burger you order), which serves your patty with pickled vegetables and hot sauce. The patty was broken into chunks and there was also some rice in the bowl. This is a great way to trick yourself into eating salad! Since the dish does away with the bread of the burger, it’s a healthy option, and the bowl is large enough to be your dinner.
From the entrées, I picked their Shorshee ‘Shrooms (Rs 210), which include blobs of tender mushrooms in Bengali mustard sauce, thrown between a buttered bun. The presentation of this particular dish reminded me of the Irani cafés in South Mumbai, but their cheddar cheese and Hara mango relish make it a classier counterpart to the cheap kheema my friends are addicted to. Since it was drizzling, we also picked a warm Desi Chicken Shtoo (Rs 345) — chicken chunks served with delicious brown gravy and vegetables. Dipping a slice of brun pao into warm gravy and biting into the flavours when it’s freezing cold outside with the rain pelting down is a delightful experience.
The desserts took a while to be served, but they were certainly worth the wait, We ordered two dishes that weren’t on the menu at their Bandra outlet. My dining companion chose the Desi Cup Cake (Rs 265), a warm and gooey chocolate cake served in a small coffee cup with cool crème anglaise and cherry sauce, adding a sweet flavour to the spongy cake. The dish is quiet heavy though, so you might need a partner to finish it. I picked the Cleopatra (Rs 210) because the menu said it was an ancient Egyptian dessert and I happen to be a sucker for history. A union of apricot custard and vanilla mascarpone, the presentation was simple and the quantity was perfect. The apricot custard was cold and creamy, with no chunks. The mascarpone was rich and had the perfect consistency.
After a round of shopping at Infinity Mall in Andheri, ignore all the chain restaurants at the food court and walk a few steps to get to Desi Deli. It’s a wonderful place at which to enjoy your meal, and has a very relaxing ambiance. If you’re in a hurry, grab a hot dog and enjoy their distinct flavours on the road. But, I suggest you make some time in your hectic schedule, sit at one of Desi Deli’s outdoor tables and sip on their chicken stew as it rains. How often does life emulate a French film anyway?
Where Plot No. 480, Adarsh Nagar, MHADA Layout, Oshiwara
Price for two Rs 800
Alcohol served No