-By Marryam H Reshii
Delhi's most savvy restaurateur turns his hand to Marwari.
It's not a trendy restaurant so the sarkari environs of Ashoka Hotel match it perfectly. And it's already become an adda for vegetarians.
All the minus points are, unfortunately, courtesy the host hotel. There is no signage whatsoever telling you how to reach Shraman, and once you do, the air-conditioning makes a deafening sound, far louder than the piped music. What is in the restaurant's hands is ably taken care of: after all, this is the brain child of Jayaram Banon, the most canny restaurant owner in these parts. So service is unfailingly polite, the food arrives at the speed of lightning and whatever request you make is acceded to without a second thought. The best part? The laughably low prices. My thali (which they don't offer as yet but which was organized in a split second) cost all of Rs 438 and was far too much food for one person. All around were families celebrating the advent of an all-vegetarian restaurant where they did not have to be on their guard lest an unfamiliar ingredient suddenly accost them!
The menu is divided into two parts. One is amorphous North Indian and includes Shabnam curry (Rs 325) and dhingri badam (Rs 475). The other is where Shraman is set to blaze new trails. The best thing in this section is dal bati churma (Rs 325). It's not diet food, mind you, because the single bati that I got as part of my thali was soaked in pure ghee, the churma was studded with slivered almonds and pistachios and the dal elevated the whole Shraman experience to the level of art.
The bhindi kurkuri (Rs 325) had far more besan and less vegetable, which would be logical in a household in the desert of Marwar; the gatta curry (Rs 325) was passable; Papad and Mangori ki sabzi was excellent and the patra ki sabzi (Rs 325) had more besan to colocasia ratio than would have been the case in, say, Gujarat.
Plus and Minus
I have no doubt that all the present glitches will soon be ironed out. This rather short menu will be lengthened once customer preference is reckoned. Even the air-conditioning will be silenced.
Dal bati churma, kalmi vada, Jodhpuri mirchi ka pakoda.
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