Before a certain March evening, if you had asked me if I wanted to have dhokla as a dinner course—much less a dhokla cupcake—I would have smiled and shook my head.
But now that I bite into Chef Hemant Oberoi’s take on the fluffy Indian savoury—an evanescent, star-shaped, tapas-style avatar, I’ve understood why this legend of Indian cooking could once do justice to a fusion of Californian and Indian food.
A whole smorgasbord of such delights awaits you inside The Dinner Box, Delhi’s latest must-eat pop-up, gourmet delivery service that is teaming up with renowned chefs all over the country to come up with inventive line-ups featuring signature and inventive recipes. I am about to go on a beautiful journey of taste with the latest in the series—Journey of a Martabaan—at Rooh, the casual dining restaurant cosseted in a 150-year-old haveli in Mehrauli, on a nippy night at the fag end of winter, with the sensei-like Chef Oberoi himself for company.
And yet, this “dinner box” is probably best ordered-in, owing to the fact that it has been thought of and executed as a delivered culinary experience—one that you can enjoy putting together and relishing with family or even a larger gathering. The delivery comes in a neat package, with clear instructions on heating and plating the dishes right. There are two menus—one for vegetarians and the other for meat-eaters.
As I earlier said, Chef Oberoi is known for his fusion gourmet delights, and he told us over Chicken Anticuchos about his culinary love affair with Peruvian cuisine and how it’s also influenced his eponymous restaurant in Mumbai’s BKC. Anticuchos are a quintessential Peruvian snack, almost a pintxo without the base, but here, they get a poultry twist along with some Panca chilli and a side of aji verde, or Peruvian green sauce. The vegetarians get equally succulent (but possibly even better) Paneer Anticuchos.
The second course was all about blending the coarse texture and juicy flavour punch of sugarcane with the zest of Indian street snacks, and the results, as you will attest, are spectacular. And the Ganderi Kebab, right from the moment it made contact with my palate, kicked off a crazy flavour festival. Eaten like a popsicle whose top is dipped in refreshing coriander chutney, the whole apparatus organised in a nosing glass, the meat on this is so seductively tender that it will have you let all your guards down.
The vegetarian counterpart of it is Candid Batata Vada, and one doesn’t have to bite through it—just get the bearings of the sugarcane stick and you will slide through the cross-section of the soft bun and aloo patty inside. Little alternating dollops of tomato and mustard sauce add that essential tang.
The main course of Oberoi's menu features the dish that gives it its name—Martabaan ka Meat, or Martabaan ke Chole—both unbelievably delicious preparations punctuated on either side by Bohri Lamb Kebabs served with piquante chutney and pao bread, and the almost otherworldly, luscious palak edamame (to be scooped up with sago crisps). For a moment, I almost imagine myself in the hallowed, luxury dining mecca that was Chef's Studio, also conceptualised by Chef Oberoi. I cast an incredulous glance in his direction and he smiles like Melquiades.
Also part of the spread are Truffle Cheese Kulcha and Andhra Pulao, and for dessert, we have Gulab Jamun Tiramisu, which I am sure the sweet lovers among us will eat very noisily. It is this brilliance with flavour fusion that makes this dinner box worth a try. For more information, check out their website (www.thedinnerbox.in).