-By Deepali Gupta
As names go, this one is supremely cryptic. A lower case g. Located in the P Block of Connaught Place, it has several other restaurants as neighbours, but g has managed to make its mark in terms of food and ambience. It's not old-fashioned yet it's hardly contemporary either, g is timeless, like some of the landmark restaurants in Connaught Place. And the menu is not cliched on the one hand, nor modern on the other: it too is timeless. When you're having dinner and the restaurant is crowded (as it has been whenever I have visited) and the ghazal singer is in full force, you'd be hard pressed to believe you are in a restaurant that is less than one year old.
The good part about the menu in g is the sheer number of interesting dishes. You can visit them regularly and not run out of options to try. The vegetarian options are actually interesting. karara palak (Rs 285) is a good starter. The batter is thin and crisp and the spices are tongue-tingling. Out of the non-vegetarian kebabs, I have always gone back to the superb Khyberi kebab (Rs 395) a lamb shank perfectly marinated so that meat and masalas are in perfect harmony. In this age of health consciousness where red meat is public enemy number one, it is a pleasure to come across lamb on which so much attention is lavished.
There are two tiny anomalies in the menu, both in the vegetarian main course section. Though g is a North Indian restaurant, their tadka dahi (Rs 265) and bean foogath (Rs 265) are both from south of the Vindhyas. The first is a rather thick rendition of the Tamil Nadu moru kozhumbu and the second is a home-style dry vegetable cooked simply with grated coconut and curry leaves. It is certainly a great idea to have a couple of dishes that have minimal spicing on a predominantly Punjabi menu. Much more of a crowd pleaser is kurkuri bhindi (Rs 265) which is a completely addictive crunchy preparation with not a whit of gravy or indeed moisture. It is more like a namkeen to go with drinks.
For my money, it is the non-vegetarian main courses that are what I go back for. Dum mirchi gosht (Rs 395) and chooza khaas lababdar (Rs 395) both are distinguished by the touch of dhungar that is done to them. Dhungar is the ancient desi art of smoking a cooked dish with a lighted coal and some ghee. It is only attempted by cooks who know what they are doing, because too intense a smoked flavour and you have ruined the dish, while too little and you needn't have bothered. Too many restaurants use the word lababdar interchangeably with tomato gravy, but one morsel of this delectable tomato-onion preparation and you'll be back for more.
If mutton is your thing, do choose the dum mirchi gosht with its tantalizing flavour of green chillies and smokiness over the rather ordinary mutton rogan josh. The latter is billed as a Kashmiri delicacy but is scarcely out of the ordinary. Lastly, do call in advance: out of the three times I have visited, there have been private parties on one or the other floor twice.
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