City Food – Chilli Gobhi, Gymkhana Club, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
First thing first. It’s not that famous Gymkhana, the one that’s close to the prime minister’s residence in Delhi.
The restaurant at the HUDA Gymkhana Club in Gurgaon’s Sector 4 in the Greater Delhi Region has no pretensions. The curtains are frayed. The garden-facing windows are smudged with misty stains. The walls look a tad discolored. The ceiling glows with red and green lamps as if inspired from traffic lighting. The tables are decked with fake flowers.
This late afternoon the air in the empty restaurant is steeped in the scent of some creamy gravy. The lunch hour is long past and a housekeeper is sweeping the floor. A handful of waiters are watching a cricket match on TV.
The place is cosy ambiance is suggestive of a time when life was less competitive, choices were few and eateries didn’t have to fret about customers’ online reviews. The restaurant menu, in fact, gels with the mood. It is like a blast from the 1990s when nobody had heard of kale seeds and sushi was a rumour. The most exotic item that’s available here is… well, chilli gobhi.
And now it’s served.
Glistening with oil, the fried cauliflowers appear to be dyed in a curious shade of red, interspersed with pieces of lightly sautéed capsicum and onions. The garlicky smell is intense. Just a bite reveals that the oil has percolated deep inside every canny and crevice of the gobhi. And it is so spicy. The dish’s Punjabi-Chinese grandeur is overwhelming but tastes less wild when downed with a glass of lemon soda. Indeed, this is a kind of unsophisticated comfort food to be tackled only in a disarming place like this easy-going, slightly shabby and almost-secretive restaurant. It is so discreetly situated inside the neighbourhood club (lovely lawn!) that one won’t have any idea of its existence while walking on the road outside. A harmless city surprise indeed.