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National Crafts Museum, Bhairon Marg, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Tel: 7838960787, Timings: 11:30 am-10 pm
Meal for two:?Rs 1,200
If you’re one for atmospherics paired with earthy food, Cafe Lota’s the place to linger on a sunny winter afternoon. Located on the Crafts Museum premises at Pragati Maidan, the al fresco dining space serves a pleasant mix of regional Indian cuisine, laced with a bit of fusion fare. Whatever you order, do leave space for Lota’s dreamy signature dessert, the Bhapa Doi Cheesecake (Rs 100), the quintessential Bengali sweetened steamed yogurt reimagined on a biscuit base.
But begin with Palak Patta Chaat (all veg small plates Rs 150), crisp and tangy as it should be, and the delicate beetroot chops with cream cheese dip spiked with Bengali spice. The Arbi Ke Kabab is dry and unimpressive, but the Chicken Ghee Roast (Rs 255), made fragrant with curry leaves, is divine, and elicited many oohs and aahs at the table. Among the vegetarian mains (all Rs 265), we tried and loved the Pahadi thali—a hearty portion of Bhatt ki churkani (hill-grown black bean curry), bhang chutney and spicy potatoes. On another visit, I tried the homely Sindhi Kadhi, served with crispy, twice-cooked potatoes. The Kerala stew with appam was ordinary, the chicken version better, but our taste buds got dancing again with a bite of Parsi Salli Boti (non-veg mains Rs 365), goat meat in a tomato gravy. The flavourful Konkan Fish Curry came next, along with Goan Galinha Cafreal, which was let down by the toughness of the chilly-coriander spiced chicken breast. One hopes the limited menu will be a rotating one—but hey, please let the Bhapa Doi Cheesecake stay.