City Food – Patate al Forno, Ajay Guest House, Paharganj
So not Delhi.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is for aloo aficionados. This dish, for once, is not deep-fried in oil. The patate al forno (210 rupees)—Italian baked potato—at Ajay Guest House is a relief from Delhi’s native cooking.
Served in Brown Bread Bakery, the hotel’s coffee shop in Paharganj’s Main Bazar, the potatoes are moderately brushed with olive oil, garnished with whole cloves of garlic, and flavoured with needle-like leaves of rosemary. The tubers are baked until the surface is golden-brown and crisp. They are then sliced into bite-sized pieces and served hot. The dish is untouched by spices and not greasy at all—so typical of our city’s delicacies such as aloo samosa, aloo tikki, and aloo gosht.
If you are a willing slave to Delhi’s cuisine, you may like to have parathas as an accompaniment. But if you just long for a filling no-fuss meal, the dish by itself makes for a satisfying meal. Indeed, the subtle sweetness of garlic infuses the entire being with gentle laziness.
Since al forno takes about as long as half hour to appear on your table, bring along a novel to kill the time, or watch the people in the cafe—the guests are mostly backpackers from Israel and Europe.
The place also has a shelf stacked with novels in Hebrew, and a handful of books on Buddhism. Start the meal with a large glass of fresh papaya juice, and end it with cappuccino, one of the frothiest in Delhi.
Potato, Italian style