Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Imly - Chaat with Chutzpah

When you live in Delhi, you take your chaat for granted. Every neighbourhood market offers a half decent golgappa walla. When we visit chaat shops is when we throw any apprehensions of hygiene out of our mind. Most Indians, after all have a sturdy immune system having been exposed to street food from a young age. However with time people prefer sitting in a fine air conditioned environment  and yes our aqua-guarded systems may not exactly take well to spurious water anymore but the age old palate is the same. We like our food with all the tang, the spices, the chutneys and the hari mirch, the teekha and the meetha.

That is when spaces such as Imly move in. It is tongue tickling and tantalising. Street food gets sassy at Imly. The interiors bring together the colours of typical small town Indian streets, reminiscent of scenes what with its dyed multi-coloured dupattas drying in one corner and the colourful bangles being sold nearby. Linoleum flooring the colour of kites and antique but inexpensive furniture we inherited from grandparents. There is a nice al fresco area with water spray cooler. Mismatched crockery, ferris wheels of childhood fairs, shikanji in banta bottles and chatkhare wali chaat. No wonder one of my loveliest childhood memories is plucking raw green imly from a tree in school and slurping away back home. So crazy were we that we even bit into the pretty fern like, symmetrical imly leaves-which are equally sour-the days on which we couldn't find imly hanging low enough. This is nostalgia galore, served in a clean, hygienic environment.

I ventured into the latest Imly outlet at One Horizon Centre, Gurgaon predictably on a Tuesday as otherwise I am quite the carnivore. The place had a buzz about it and the staff looked genuinely happy and cheerful. The Manager Vikas greeted me all suited booted and had the attitude of a manager in a typical 5-star hotel, rarely found in standalone restaurants sadly. He took a good appraisal of my taste preference and then gave some of his suggestions and we settled upon the menu. Thankfully the menu is not too exhaustive and sticks to what they are good at. A limited but good menu also ensures the produce will be fresh and perfected. It is better to serve 30 stellar dishes than 100 dishes on a menu that leave you baffled and confused, making you end up with wrong choices. The dishes are also quite reasonably priced.

I started with a Kokum Shikanji and my companion with Plain Shikanji. Kokum was any day better. Then we started with Dahi Golgappa that came in an orange ferris wheel. So
the right note was set. Their Palak Patta Chaat is much touted but again the manager Vikas took pains to ensure I had a change of taste and sent Mushroom Malai Tikki first followed by the chaat. Mushroom Malai Tikki is a unique dish that is creamy, mushroomy and cheesy at the same time and yet has the crispiness of tikki on the outside. Palak patta chaat next was of course one of the best I have had anywhere with crisp and crunchy spinach leaves ensconced in yoghurt and a melange of chutneys and pomegranates.

Next we tried the Cheese Burst Dosa which otherwise I would never order on my own. I am not a big fan of unnecessary fusion but it was highly recommended. But it worked. Either they have altered the dosa batter in some way as it somehow tastes as if it was meant for cheese all along! So delicious is each biteful that you actually don't need any sambhar or chutney with it.


Next we sampled the Schezwan Vada Pao, emboldened by the previous positive experience. Again the Vada Pao was true to its Mumbai sensibilities but it had an added zing of Schezwan sauce. A good blend of taste. Although their Main Course platters such as Gatta Curry and Mushroom Chettinad are also popular, I could not have more as we were full. Will keep those for some other occasion.

The other reason was that I had seen some interesting desserts on the menu. We tried the Rasmalai Tiramisu which was average as I am a fan of good old conventional tiramisu and an assortment of kulfi. I have always loved Rose Kulfi and theirs was nice. However Jamun Kulfi was interesting too, more like a sorbet and with natural Jamun pulp (albeit frozen I guess) and less milky, it was a welcome and healthier option. However for the indulgent sweet tooth, there is of course the Jalebi Kulfi, a brilliant innovation. It has chunks of jalebi in the kulfi, reminding you of the age -old milk and jalebi combination so popular in winters. As we were winding up, the Manager stealthily brought in a Jalebi with Rabdi platter. Shaped like a starfish, the platter is totally appealing and irresistible. The Jalebi is more yellow than red and piped in round concentric circles rather than the criss cross of normal jalebis. There was a sublime beauty to the dish that the aesthete in me loved. I had a bite and it was crisp and juicy. Perfect end to a really imlycious meal. Imly is here to stay.

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