Prime Edition

Fusion desi fare, thoughtfully done

30th May 2015

Desi Roots

G 16, 17, 30, 31 Ground Floor, Salcon Rasvilas, Near Select City Walk Mall, District Centre, Saket

Ph: (011) 3310 6105

Meal for two: Rs.2500

There is no sure-fire way to get fusion cuisine right, but for my money, it's a little bit like how you prepare, last-minute, for an examination that you absolutely have to pass. Instead of wasting time trying to learn new and difficult concepts from scratch, you are better off focusing on stuff you're already good at, and perfect them. Never mind your weaknesses, make your strengths even stronger.

The Warm Samosa Deconstruct with Aam Papad Chutney at Desi Roots (an Indian-cum-fusion restaurant at Saket) follows this strategy perfectly. It tempers the fiery spices of the samosa with more fruity flavours, like the anaar-daana (pomegranate chunks). The "deconstruction" in the name refers to the fact that instead of a closed samosa, what you get is layers of the filling sandwiched between planes of the crust, arranged in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Mexican wraps. The samosa's distinctive flavour is thus maintained and even enhanced while its weaknesses — it's oily as hell and sometimes too hot to handle — are covered up automatically.

The fruity ways of Desi Roots are also exploited to the hilt in their version of Kulle Chaat, a slight upgrade on the dish served in old Delhi, where fruits are scooped out and stuffed with chaat. The folks at Desi Roots did the same — very competently, I might add — with a twist: the units were all perfect cubes; a little eerie, but delicious nevertheless.

What will really get your goat, however, is the Biryani Croquette with Salan Aioli. As the name suggests, this consists of minced lamb biryani stuffed artfully and light-fried into charming little balls served with a garlic-heavy salan. It's incredibly difficult to make a high-biryani as it is. But to make such a biryani and then make croquettes that preserve the integrity and flavour of said biryani requires a very steady hand, to say the least.

Desi Roots is also very particular about presentation. They served grilled paneer in a container shaped like an iron, the old, lumbering blunt-force appliance probably used by your neighbourhood dhobi. The Ambala Cantt Mutton came roaring in, inside the back of a miniature truck. The khichri is served in little pressure-cookers you can eat out of. Clearly, somebody went to great lengths to live up to the name.

This same meticulousness extends to the interiors as well. The seat mattresses had an autorickshaw motif on them. The decorative items up on the walls and shelves were, in that quintessentially Indian way, simultaneously quaint and immediately identifiable, to a middle-class Indian anyway (like the martabaan, a glass container with a distinctive rounded lid, used to store pickles and murabba). They also get extra points for the thoughtful selection of books that patrons can thumb through while waiting for their meals: Chacha Chaudhry, issues of Tinkle, Surinder Mohan Pathak and even Premchand; that's a very Indian journey from childhood to adolescence to adulthood right there.

 
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