Where: 3rd Floor, MGF Metropolitan Mall, MG Road, Gurgaon
Cost: 1200 for two
Khaaja Chowk, once known for its authentic North Indian food, is back in a new, quirky avatar as Khaaja Chowk Version 2.0 with new additions in the menu from the cuisines of West and East India. The location is pretty great as the mall houses some pretty great brands to shop from and is situated right next to MG Road Metro Station. I had heard good things about this popular chain and finally got a taste of Khaaja Chowk at a review sesh last week. Wasn't disappointed.
They've done up the place like a cafe, which is good because we hardly ever visit Indian restaurants with our friends to just chill. They've tried to make the outlet more youth-friendly by giving it a very fun, lively vibe. The gorgepus, kinda Turkish-looking bar has some interesting cocktails presented with an Indian twist. I began with a Bloody Mary, which was slightly thicker in texture than usual, with a tomato wedge frozen inside the ice cube (full points on presentation). A great option to start with. Accompanying the cocktails were super crispy Sabudana Vada from the 'Chakna' menu that came with a tangy, very salsa-like tomato chutney. The vadas, though slightly oily, were truly satisfying and are JUST the kind of munchies you crave for with your beer. The non-vegetarians on my table however, couldn't get enough of the Chicken 65.
We moved on to the Chaat menu and were delighted to be served an all time favourite, Palak Patta Chaat, plated beautifully with yogurt (in a shot glass) on the side. It was crispier than any Palak Patta Chaat I've had and I liked that they didn't go overboard with the garnish- a slight drizzle of mint and tamarind chutney with pomegranate seeds worked just fine. Next up was 'Khaja ki Chaat', a slight variation of the Papri Chaat (khaaja, I learned, is actually layered, deep fried papris made of a mix of wheat flour and rice flour dough). Nothing like I haven't tasted before but pretty decent!
My absolute favourite however, was 'Jadavpoore Puchka Chaat' that came with gol gappas- you can either have them with yogurt, or the typical, hot as hell, gol-gappe ka paani we all love to torture ourselves with.
The highlight of my evening was Gongura Paneer Tikka- cottage cheese stuffed with achaari masala, generously marinated with a mix of yogurt and spices. The non-vegetarians were seen devouring 'Hazratganj ke Galawati Kebabs' and Fish Tikka served on mini naans (through a general survey, I found out that both these items were a hit).
So far, everything had scored well in terms of taste and presentation. For mains, I went for Dal Makhni (because how else do you even judge an Indian restaurant, if not by its Dal Makhni) and Kathal Masala with Garlic Naan. The Dal gets a big thumbs up from me- it was spicy, creamy, rich and just what the fluffy garlic naan needed. I wasn't very excited about Kathal Masala initially, but it looked quite tempting- to my surprise, I ended up eating more Kathal than I have ever had in my life. The tomato+onion bhuna masala was pure magic.
I wasn't left with any room to try dessert but I do look forward to trying out their Beetroot halwa on my next visit. As a vegetarian, I did miss out on a lot of their signature dishes like Nalli Boti ki Nihaari (came in a flaming pot) and Laal Maans, but came home happy and full!