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Nariyal Cafe at Hauz Khas works best with traditional favourites rather than the tweaks, says S Choudhary
From mutton sukka spaghetti to Kerala fish moilee, one can safely say that Nariyal Café at Hauz Khas is surely aiming at diversity in its menu. Claiming to be a south-Indian menu-oriented café, it has some fusion experiments involving international cuisine styles.
Living up to its name, everything comes with a coconut relish or garnish. Beginning with a customised coconut with your name/message painted on it, the tease begins with the visuals.
The innovation comes with the familiar coconut water and cream combination. Usually had at its purest best, the chefs here injected the coconuts with artificial flavours. While the tweaks spark up the list of beverages, they always do not sit friendly on your sensitive tastebuds. The mango/peach flavoured coconut water thoroughly left us confused as we tried to identify the mix. Even though serving fresh nariyal paani is a good way to go but with the added flavour, one can say they went too far in their quest to display diversity. Needless complexity when simplicity works best.
We were served Malay shrimplaksa at the beginning of the meal. Laksa is a spice-laden noodle dish that is popular in Malaysia and Singapore. This noodle dish is quickly gaining popularity outside of Southeast Asia because of its scrumptious taste.
One definitely would give it to them for their presentation, with almost all the dishes being served in hollowed out coconut shells. Our shrimp pieces were dipped in thick orange soup with peanuts, sprouts, mint leaves and cucumbers. While the soup was infused with the flavours of coconut milk, the other additives balanced it out smoothly.
The soup was followed by curry leaves salad, presented fancy with a pinch of sour cream. This, too, we felt, could have been kept simple.
For the main course, we were served the Goan prawn curry slider with fries and onions rings on the side, a sort of a fancy non-vegetarian pav bhaji. A few bites into the meal, one would want to fish out the prawn pieces (if you love prawns) for they are an explosion of all the ingredients of the marinade and make for a satisfying mouthful by themselves. You can enjoy the slider if you skip the drink and the soup which have already overwhelmed your senses with the coconut.
After the slider, we were asked to test the spiciest dish on the menu, mutton sukka spaghetti which was also served in hollow shells. The combination of spicy spaghetti and the well-cooked, marinated mutton complemented each other. Really didn’t need the coconut garnish. This is a good option for satiating your hunger. The portion is generous and can be shared between two people. After a brief interlude of coconut-flavoured ice cream as a palace cleanser, we were served the all too well-known meen moilee and appam. This was a pleasant mellow dish, the spice and coconut combo toned down a few notches.
The dessert surprisingly had no touch of the coconut — a chocolate bomb with vanilla ice cream, the creamy favourite for all seasons. The Nariyal Café does offer a diversified menu but it has a long way to go to cater to a diversified Delhi palate.
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