Delhi's brief but intense winter is the stuff of legend, and reams have been written about the crisp temperatures, the brilliant sunlight (on pollution-free days) and the joys of sitting out in the open and enjoying a meal in the warm sun.
CHÔ- Vietnamese Kitchen and bar, a charming eatery housed in a 160-year-old haveli overlooking the Qutub Minar, has a lovely terrace for al fresco dining. And while the weather is still pleasant, it's just the place for a modern Vietnamese meal bursting with a melange of flavours. Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, who has created an exciting winter menu for his eatery, travelled extensively in Vietnam before creating a bill of fare suited to the Indian palate.
"The food we offer is fresh and flavourful and inspired by the street food of Vietnam; however, it is also uniquely CHÔ," said Bhargava. "The winter menu has an exclusive array of Vietnamese cuisine, a charcoal-grill section, and delicious hot pots. The best part is that it is very healthy and offers many vegan and gluten-free options.
Some items not to be missed from the winter menu are the Vietnamese Pizzas. Unlike your regular carb-laden pizzas, these come with a wafer-thin rice paper base where you get all the goodness but fewer calories. We loved the one topped with chicken chorizo.
Don't miss the succulent Belgium Pork skewers from the charcoal grill and the Ba'nh Khot (crisp prawn cakes) filled with prawns, coconut milk and green onions. These are served with lettuce, Vietnamese herbs, pickled carrots, daikon and a chilli fish sauce.
If you want a hearty meal, try the Vietnamese hot pots. You can choose chicken, fish or prawns stewed in a broth flavoured with Pho herbs and condiments.
CHÔ- Vietnamese Kitchen and bar
Ambawatta One, H5/1, Kalkadass Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi
For Reservations: 9311902818
Cost for Two: INR 3,000 plus taxes
Try this version of the classic Pho by Chef Vaibhav Bhargava
Mushroom milky 5
Button mushroom 500g
Straw mushroom 100g
Shitake mushroom 200g
Shimeji mushroom 100g
Enoki mushroom 100g
Ginger 1 inch
Star anise 5g
Cinnamon stick 5g
Water 15 ltr
Flat rice noodles 200g
Cooked mushrooms 100g
Red onion, thinly sliced 1
Sliced green onion 40g
Fresh cilantro, leafy tops only 20g
Red cabbage juliennes 10g
Carrot juliennes 10g
Bean sprouts 20g
Sprigs mint/ Thai basil 10
Limes, cut into wedges 1
Fried onion 5g
Fried garlic 5g
Cut mushrooms into half. Set in a large bowl with the apple, celery, carrot, cabbage, and cilantro.
Put the star anise, cloves, coriander seed, and cinnamon in a small stockpot, about 8-quart capacity. Over medium heat, toast the spices for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Add the onion and ginger and stir for 45 to 60 seconds until fragrant. Add 8 cups water and toss in the mushrooms, apple, vegetables, salt, and the remaining 7 cups water.
Partially cover and bring to a simmer over high heat. Uncover and discard scum. Simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When done, let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Retrieve the mushroom pieces to make straining easier. Pour the broth through a muslin-lined mesh strainer positioned over a medium pot. Discard the solids. There should be about 12 cups of broth. Season.
Divide the noodles among six soup bowls. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat. At the same time, fill a pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil for the noodles.
For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the boiling water. When the noodles are soft, pull the strainer from the water and let the water drain back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl. Top with mushrooms, then add the onion, greens, and cilantro. Finish with pepper.
Serve along with condiments to add more flavour.
ALSO READ: 5 Vietnamese Foods You Need To Try