Food and Old Delhi – when these expressions meet – what we expect is nothing less than a roller coaster ride on the palate. Bara Darhi – the open air terrace restaurant at Westin Gurgaon brings flavours from Old Delhi admist somewhat rustic yet very stylish settings. We were recently invited to an evening here and we caught up with many old friends over Mughlai food and drinks. The live music ensemble of table and santoor churning out old Hindi hits made a great setting on this late winter evening.
The food tasting session comprised of various Mughlai delights by Chef Umez Javed Khan and his able team. Consequently we had delicacies such as Kebabs, Mutton Nihari, Chicken Changezi, traditional Dum Biryani. The vegetarian dishes also included Paneer Seekhs and a Paneer dish inspired by Changezi Chicken. This dish was mind blowing tasty. We had these with rumali roti, khamiri and the most amazing sheermal (sweetened bread). The dessert was a rice pudding somewhat like Phirni. The Paan stuffed with whole lot of sweet mouth fresheners was a very suitable ending to this dinner.
What we loved about the restaurant is the setting. One can see the very stylish and contemporary architecture of the Westin from this terrace. The mood lighting with real lanterns makes it an ideal venue for a romantic dinner. In fact the al fresco arrangement at Bara Darhi is a great setting for unwinding after a long day. Coming to the food – the great quality of the ingredients that have been used is undoubtedly impressive. So much so the betel leaves that were served in Paan were melt in the mouth tender. All the meats were extremely succulent. Second, the flavours in the food were very appetizing. Some of the flavours were in fact new to us. Not only the main courses but the breads were well prepared. We repeat – do try sheermal here. Third – what amazing hospitality! The staff was conscientious about the requirements of the table without intruding into the diner’s private space. When we wanted less spicy version of certain dishes, they enthusiastically obliged.
What we missed here a little bit is balance. Given the heaviness of Mughlai food, some greens or salads or vegetables in any form would have gone a long way in adding raw fibre to the meal. Also, some of the dishes were high on chilies (read mouth burning hot). The kebabs etc. that we have tried at Old Delhi at Karim’s or Kureshi during Ramzan celebrations at Old Delhi are way kind to the palate. Among deserts we were looking for Daulat ki Chat , the desert of the season. Also some masala chai would have completed the winter evening.
But then these are mere suggestion. No matter what – we loved the place. The ambiance and the overall gastronomical experience. Trust us, Bara Darhi at the cozy Westin could be a great simulation of the Old Delhi Mughlai food experience without the sweat or grime.