Tuesday, March 17, 2009

India bit 4: Caanaat Place chalen?

Both mum and the Nik have gone to work so essentially dad and I are left to our own devices. It’s a lovely sunny winter’s day and there is no way we can ignore the rays. So we decide a trip to Connaught Place (or Caanaat Place as our dear driver refers to it) to eat some divine chicken patties from Wengers is the order of the day. Also a bit of Bank work for my grandmother, a dip into Bhagwandas for some leather products and possibly a trip on the Metro. All washed down with cold coffee from Keventer’s.

CP holds so many of my growing up memories that if I did tears I would get all teary eyed just at the thought of being there. I don’t get teary eyed, except in my head, where I am recording all these sights and changes to remember when I on the other side of the planet. And Wengers, well that is like a family tradition my father had from his childhood that has been passed along like a precious legend of prowess.

We drive through Shanti Path, the gardens on either side a blooming testament to spring and hardwork of mali’s. And past the various metro construction diversions that will make Delhi more accessible for those without personal transport. We are at Wengers but as it is still so early we do not yet have the stomach to eat very much. We pack chicken patties, shammi kebabs and paneer rolls (my personal favourite, much to the disappointment of my carnivorous father who thinks paneer is nothing but flavoured cardboard). And then stroll over the road to the Bank, where they excelled at being inefficient and rude all at once.

Then a stroll through the inner circle, past the pillars and hawkers selling bric-a-brac (everything from mirror-worked cushions to sunglasses), enjoying the sunshine till we reached Bhagwandas - another of his childhood haunts that my father passed on to us. It’s a shop that sells all things leather and on a summer day its cool interiors and high ceilings with their shady tube lights used to be the most inviting thing. Somehow even on this winter’s day it did the reverse trick, being warm and inviting. I bought a passport holder (finally, after a lifetime of envelopes) and dad bought a replacement spectacle case. We walked a bit more, enjoying the shafts of sunlight that heated up the corridors and abandoned the idea of a trip on the Metro in favour of the sun. Next time?

Then we drove back towards South Delhi for an impromptu early lunch and coffee with my mum at Olive Beach. We sat in the white gravel courtyard, on cane chairs and shared a perfectly baked thin-crust pizza before devouring a hot centered chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. Washed down with a decaf cold coffee (an item as rare as finding gold nuggets in your garden, in India – a story that needs a post of its own), bathed in sunlight and the company of my parents, this was a perfect Delhi day

All our Wengers goodies were duly eaten at tea time once everyone was home. And they tasted as gorgeous as they looked. Paneer roll included.

Went and hung out with the Nik and his friends at our local branch of CafĂ© Cofee Day. Then we rejoined our parents and the Nik’s P and headed to Vasant Vihar with very intention of going to Punjabi by Nature. The plan was waylaid by Nik who insisted we try Paatra in the Vasant Continental and as he eats out a lot (and was the designated driver) we gave in. Valet parking and two security checks later we are seated in the very neutral environs of Paatra listening to some live ghazal-type music – neither is anything to write home about. The food however was excellent – kebabs and butter chicken and kali daal (these are a few of my favourite things) but there is no roomali roti (the pinnacle of all roti’s in my experience). I am full and happy by the time we leave. And yet I threaten the Nik with a lawsuit unless a PbN standard roomali roti is produced in the next few days.

As the night is still young and everyone is still full of beans (and decidely young) we decide that dessert should be had at Olive, whose fine chocolate Fondant is beckoning. After two in the same day and the endless, relentless eating I have no place in my stomach or heart by the time the evening is finally night. I could not be much happier. Or more content.

Wenger’s (open 10.30am to 7.30pm daily): A-16 Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001. Tel: 23324594
Olive Beach: 9 Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi – 110021. Tel: 46040404
Paatra: Jaypee Vasant Continental Hotel, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi - 110057. Tel: 2614 8800


  1. Anonymous12:14 AM

    this is a great series. I have very fond and precious memories of Wengers too (also associated with my dad).

  2. I stay in NCR but have never been to any of these places. Having read this, my mouth is watering now.. And I am hungry too... :-)

  3. Ra: Wengers is a tradition - almost ceremonial - that should be passed down through generations if at all possible!

    Soulmate: Fake dilliwalla till you try Wengers I say!!! Go now. And don't forget to turn the corner and down your chicken patty with a Keventer's cold coffee while enjoying the last of the winter sunshine.....