“We often fear what we do not understand” – The popular quote from Star Trek is true for many walks of life, and also sadly when it comes to food. It is pretty difficult to sell a different cuisine in its authentic form I believe in Delhi. I have seen reviewers rip apart restaurants on blogging apps and sites with lowly reviews of regional cuisine serving joints. People have developed such a strong palette for the north Indian and Punjabi taste in their food that any other cuisine unless modified a bit to suit the north Indian style does not get a good feedback. Almost all cuisines are inspired and tweaked from their vicinity styles and in turn lend inspiration to others. However Bihari cuisine has maintained its preparation style almost intact over time. Magadh dynasty, one of the oldest Indian dynasties stood where lies modern Bihar. The people cooked with simple ingredients of black gram, eggplants, red chillies etc. The signature taste of Bihari cuisine comes through gram flour or black grams. The ingredient is staple to Bihar and is used for preparation from shakes to parathas.
Potbelly presents itself as an authentic outlet for Bihari cuisine, whose flavors and recipes have been passed down through generations. It is not easy to understand and fully appreciate a cuisine if its native to you as it becomes more of a habit. I have enjoyed Bengali and Bihari cuisines throughout my life, for the roots of my parents. Also my years of working in Jamshedpur made Bihari food a daily affair. But when presented in Delhi, you can identify and appreciate the finesse of a cuisine as it brings a stark difference to your everyday palette. Though I have visited both their outlets in Delhi, at Shahpur jat and Chanakyapuri, here I would talk about the lovely ShahpurJat outlet.
The 4 floor climb through the narrow stairs to the rooftop cafe can catch you out of breath. I suggest you begin with a Sattu cooler. The chilled shake which i had after years brought immediate peace. The view from the top is really amazing, but if you climb down a few stairs from the opposite side of cafe you find yourselves in almost a garden with soothing ambience and open terrace. I have not seen a better sitting at Delhi anywhere else.
The dishes I tried were, Keema ghoogni, Machli goli, Meat pakoda basket, Keema Aloo chop, Bihari chicken burger, Chicken Litti Chokha, Pudina chicken pulao and Mutton Litti chokha. The meat pakodas were a wonderful assortment of chicken and mutton balls with dhaniya chutney. The keema chop was again amazing served with sabudana pakodas. The quantity of main course is huge and enough for two. We loved every dish and especially enjoyed the mega burger. Pav with delicious keema and a giant chicken patty. The ghoogni was quite different from the bengali ghoogni and was made of black gram. But coupled with fine keema on a bed of chida it tasted amazing. Machli goli served with small khasta peas roti was equally brilliant. I especially enjoyed the chutney, fine mixing of dhaniya, pudina, copious amount of lasoon and tomatoes gave it a perfect blend of spicy and tangy.
The finale dish however was the litti. Monstrous in size and solidly filled with sattu served with mutton curry and chokha. I have seen many a Delhites struggle with the word chokha confusing it with chonka. Chokha is a simple dish of mashed potato with salt and red chilli and sometimes a dash of mustard oil. The litti was quite different from the usual redi littis ( which i am very fond of) which have loose filling of sattu. Littis I believe are best enjoyed when eaten with hand dipping and folding the chokha and chutney inside like having roti subzey. Enjoyed to hearts content.
Check out my zomato profile www.zomato.com/chakravortys and insta profile @flavorsforsoul to follow my food journey.