If you have been living in Delhi for long, its needless to mention that you have the north Indian food at plenty of places with similar menu’s, with strikingly similar tastes and by now your taste buds have almost stopped recognizing the difference between one Indian restaurant from another. The usual standard fare of dal makhani and chicken and paneer tikka have made you numb.
That’s exactly how I was feeling when I dropped into Masala House during the winter of 2015. Expecting fancy names to camouflage for the same tastes, I began my expeditions at Masala House. Before I move onto describing the food, let me state that since my first visit I have been back to the place almost once every month. Sorry for killing the suspense, if there was any….
So as I settled down in Masala House, the restaurant is situated in the now sleepy market of Sundar Nagar, the place has a nice sit out balcony on the top floor which gives a decent view of some greenery overlooking the gardens of Sundar Nagar.
I began with the appetizers and I must admit I stuck to the tried and tested because some part of me wanted to believe that a usual cottage cheese can be made so well / differently that the taste lingers on. So I recommend both the paratwala paneer and the bhatti paneer tikka. As the name suggests the masalas is what makes the difference. Perfectly marinated and excellently presented both these dishes are a must have. I would recommend not distracting these dishes with any pickles or chutneys. For the meat lovers, yes I haven’t forgotten, the bhatti murg is brilliant. It has a garlic pepper taste and that’s what is its differentiator, the dish has four soft chicken legs ready to melt in your mouth. Additionally, the dora kebab is a must have. It’s basically the mutton seekh which we all have so commonly had, but I assure you this preparation will amaze you. It has a unique taste and is served rather creatively with a dori (thread) being pulled right out of the seekh. In short don’t miss it if you want to try something unique and tasty. Period. Moving on the silbatte ki shami, the popular mutton shami kebab is another dish which caught my fancy. Lovely four pieces, well infused with spices, it offers a great balance between the lamb and the lentil. For the sea surfers, the kasoondi machchi tikka, described as a river sole fish in mustard paste is simply adorable.
In the mains, there are plenty of options and the vegetarians will have no reason to crib for lack of choice. The paneer lababdar, dum ki dal and the palak moti (palak paneer) are super. The lababdar is a bit lethargic in its digestion but the taste more than makes up for it. Infact the thick paste is as much a eat, as the paneer and one can simply much of a bread entirely with it. The quality of the palak is supreme, well grounded and hence it brings the wholesome body to the palak paneer. In the meat section the the chicken chettinad is welcome relief from the usual north Indian rich gravy and offers a lovely south Indian taste which in some sense breaks the monotony of the experience. The flavour of coconut laced with the chettinad spice makes it heavenly for the pieces of chicken to swim in them. Having tried both the biryani’s I can safely recommend both, though I would have loved it had the rice been blended only a slight bit better with the meats. But overall no complaints and at times the biryani can be a meal by itself specially for single folks or for guys whose homes have turned them out due to a round of cleaning or a bunk by the cook.(personal experience).
So if you haven’t ventured out to Sundar Nagar market, and I don’t blame you, it has little to offer other than ample parking it will be worth your while to go back there to eat at Masala House a restaurant serving lovely food in a relaxed and classy environment.
Since the middle class values of mine kicked in I haven’t gone beyond the usual cola’s and fresh limes at this place, but the place has a full fledged bar with some exotic offerings and some great wines for the expats and indulgent Indians that I so often see eating at this place. Oh and of course in the breads section both the lachcha and the pudina paratha are great and I did also try the the bread bar which is tempting incase you like variety and would like to be a prudent spender.