Food for thought – The Hindu

From Mussoorie to Majnu Ka Tila, Kalsang restaurant has come a long way with its meals and menu

From Mussoorie to Majnu Ka Tila, Kalsang restaurant has come a long way with its meals and menu

When it is so hot that you can fry an eggs on the pavement, you think of the mountains. Those were the good old days. ‘Corona’ was just a harmless footwear brand, we would head for the hills as the mercury soared.

Manali and Landour were both my favorite destinations. Not only because of the cool air, but also for the delicious food. And though Mussoorie was just a few kilometres from Landour, I stayed away — because the restaurants there had nothing much to offer.

My friends, however, kept raving about the food served at Kalsang in Mussoorie, so much so that during a trip to the hill station some years ago, I stopped by the small restaurant on the Mall Road for a meal. And I was greatly disappointed. The majority of the dishes were very spicy and reddish in colour.

But I believe in forgiving and forgetting, so when I learnt that a branch of Kalsang had opened up in Delhi (158, Tibetan Colony, Majnu Ka Tila) and was delivering food to my part of the city, I promptly placed an order.

I asked for a plate of lemon and ginger chicken (₹407), chicken special chop suey (₹389), double fried pork dry (₹341) and chef’s vegetable basket in sauce (₹328). I must admit that Kalsang has changed or that I have mellowed with time. The meal was excellent. Photo Credit: SpecialArrangement

 Vegetable basket

 Vegetable basket
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Edible basket

I started with the vegetable bag. The basket itself was edible – shaped like a birds’ nest and made with potato fries. The vegetables — seasonal veggies, with baby corn and asparagus — came with a spicy sauce. This was my first taste of the chicken. This was also very good. The gravy was light, gingery and contained small pieces of sliced Lemons. This gave the gravy a little bit of zest. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Chilli pork

Chilli pork
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Next on the menu was my favourite meat dish — pork. The last few times I had ordered pork (from a well-known Chinese eatery in central Delhi), I found the meat stringy and hard. Kalsang’s pork was just right — soft and melty, with fat on the sides. I had that with some steamed rice prepared at home, and then went on to another of my favourites — chop suey.

I first had this dish several years ago at the Howrah railway station, where the Great Eastern Hotel had a small outlet. I was astonished by the crunchy noodles and the soft texture that came with the meat-heaped gravy. It’s been a favourite ever since, and I have had many happy encounters with the dish at restaurants such as Ichiban.

This one didn’t disappoint me either. The gravy was rich in chicken pieces and included a variety of vegetables, including silky mushrooms. The sauce was thick, and the noodles were deliciously crunchy — and stayed crispy even when I poured the chicken and gravy over it. I made a great meal from it and finished the meal with homemade suji hala.

Thai and Tibetan menu

Kalsang offers food from other parts Asia. It has an impressive Thai menu (red curry ₹671 for prawn; ₹467 for pork). The Tibetan menu included chicken shaptak — thinly sliced chicken with onion, garlic and spices (₹414) and vegetable shabhalay (deep fried pie filled with green vegetables) for ₹239. On the Bhutanese list is ema datshi – prepared with cheese and chillies (₹281).

I was satisfied with the meal. I enjoyed some of my favorite dishes and a large portion of humble pie.

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