Close your eyes. Part your lips. Open that mouth, and bite… into mouthfuls of heaven. We belong to that clan of people who find intense gratification in food, and nothing but food. So, as the eventful year of 2012 draws to an end, HT City brings to you a long, hunger-inducing list of 12 offbeat food items—be it an appetizer, main course dish, dessert or even a cup of coffee—that won our hearts this year. Why offbeat, you ask? Because frankly, we’re bored out of our minds doing the same-old dal makhni, butter chicken, shahi paneer and gulab jamun ritual! So, here’s a ‘bitten-word’ treat for all you food loyalists out there. Statutory warning: Don’t let anyone spot you salivating.
1 Blueberry Chicken: This one was a part of the Patthar Ke Kebab fest a few months ago at Pashtun (formerly known as Khyber), Sector 35, Chandigarh. The combination of the two core ingredients might not seem appealing to many in their heads, that’s why you need to bite into its succulent texture once to believe it. The soft, shredded chicken with seedy blueberry happens to be a to-die-for combination, if this kebab is to go by. Though it is not available as a part of their regular menu, if you plead the chef hard enough, he might just oblige! Another part appealing about the kebab, like we needed another reason, was that it was served on a hot, stone plate—the same one it was cooked on—giving us enough time to knock back a few to maintain our ‘bittersweet’ relationship.
2 Mirchi Ka Halwa: A part of the Awadhi cuisine, this unique halwa is actually made out of our beloved hari mirch (25%) and capsicum (75%), coupled with khoya, chashni (sugar syrup) and nuts. Whoever came up with the recipe must have been termed crazy back then, but it’s nothing short of a delicacy in our part of the world. Though the dessert is fast gaining popularity, we last spotted it at JW Marriott’s Awadhi food fest. Don’t let the ‘sinful bells’ scare you; this one is worth every tongue-soothing bite.
3 Melanzane Alla Parmigiana: As difficult the name is to pronounce, the easier the dish is on the tongue. Shallow-fried melanzane (Italian for eggplant) is baked with layers of tomato sauce and cheese (traditionally parmesan) to give you this Italian staple. The one that won our heart was the one served to us at newly opened Pizzamore in Sector 22, Chandigarh. While traditionally an egg sauce is used to bind the layers of the dish while baking, the Italian chef at Pizzamore uses besan (or ‘chana flour’ as he calls it in his endearing accent). The final result is layers of melted cheese, melt-in-mouth eggplant and the basic basil-tomato sauce playing hide and seek with your taste buds; every time you seek, the more interesting it gets. Again, not a part of the menu, but if you call up the restaurant and tell them half-an-hour in advance, you’d have it ready by the time you reach.
4 Gelato on a Stick: Yes yes, we know you’ve had it, and we also know there’s nothing like it! These heart-shaped ice creams come in various flavours like the strawberry, hazelnut and chocolate at Chandigarh’s new rage of a destination, SuperDonuts.
5 Potato Galette: This one comes to us by the restaurant that has taken an oath to provide us with nothing conventional—Flamme Bois Bistro, Sector 7. It’s basically a flat, freeform crusty cake of potatoes and onions with herbs, topped with sautéed mushrooms in a cream cheese and mustard sauce, with mozzarella for garnishing. The creaminess with a hint of mustard countered by the crisp potatoes works wonders.
6 Bock Beer: Tricity’s first micro brewery, Hops n Grains, Sector 9, Panchkula, brought us the German Bock Beer during one of their fests in August 2012. The dark, malty texture of the freshly brewed beer made it stand out. While the beer is categorised as strong, its sweet undertone, countered by a hint of bitterness, gets really playful on your tongue. As luck has it, the beer is back for a brief festival! Two more varieties we’re looking forward to in the coming season from the brewery are green apple and vanilla beer. Yes, that’s a calculated risk we’re willing (read dying) to take.
7 Chicken/Veg Shish: This one is a no-brainer. Marinated pieces of chicken or vegetables—broccoli, red/yellow bell peppers, onions, mushrooms—skewed together in the wood fired oven, and served with hummus and pita bread at Forno, Sector 35, Chandigarh, and Sector 9, Panchkula. How can that combination not be appealing? Anyone, and we mean anyone, who doesn’t like this one, is incapable of love. Period.
8 Vanilla Latte: We’ve all had our variety of coffees—the everyday coffee, the wake-me-up coffee, the I’m-in-mood-for-indulgence coffee. This one, served at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Sector 22), however, qualifies as I-love-you-too coffee. Say a guy says ‘those three words’ to you and you’re not ready to say it back yet, just treat him to the Vanilla Latte and take our word for it, you won’t have to say it back, ever.
9 Potato Massaman Curry: If you have been following HT City’s Foodie’s Diary, you already know this dish. For the other lesser mortals, here we go again—it’s a Thai curry dish with boiled baby potatoes, served with basil rice, at Chocodate in Sector 36.
A simple dish at the onset, the orange-coloured curry comprises coconut milk, peanut paste with hints of cardamom. Another
plus is that you don’t have to be a fan of Thai food to be a fan of this curry.
10 Paneer Tikka Fatayer: Categorised under Arabic Pizzas at Jaffa, Sector 8 (your true blue Lebanese food joint), the middle-eastern fatayer is basically a pie, stuffed with almost anything of your choice. The one we slurped to was the one stuffed with paneer tikka and the melting mozzarella cheese. We believe the Hindi word ‘laplapayi’, conjoined usually with ‘tongue’, is meant for dishes like these.
11 Boston Cream Donut: Show us a homosapien who does not like this particular donut and, we will…well, beat him up. A thick layer of chocolate on top with cream filled at the bottom, and that oh-so chewy texture of the donut—it’s almost like the soul of the donut calls out to you every time you look at it with your puppy eyes, lying inside that counter. Where else would this one be available but youngsters’ latest haunt—SuperDonuts. Doh!
12 Quesadilla: True Mexican, true indulgence. The flour tortilla, made in house at Viva Mexico, Sector 10, is something your teeth would be happy to bite into. And the filling, that of cheese, corn and vegetables, is as sinful as it is satisfying. Served with sour cream and herbed chopped tomatoes, this authentic Mexican main course gets a big thumbs up from the foodies at HT City!