Desi Di takes us back in time with PCO telephones & poppins
As we walk into the brand new Desi Di, located at Pilkington Road, Ayanavaram, we are greeted with bright walls, flowy curtains and a plethora of objects designed to inspire nostalgia. The space is the latest addition to the fun dining sector of restaurants by Oriental Cuisines Pvt Ltd. And here is why it’s fun.From PCO telephones and tea kadai glass jars filled with Poppins to tiffin box wall installations, board games and spinning tops, we are taken back in time.
As our friendly waiter sets up a game of ludo for us, our hibiscus ice tea (in a long stemmed beaker) and lemon barley shikanji (in mason jars) arrive as refre-shers. Goan Chef Aaron Coutinho, who is in Chennai for the first time, takes us through the menu, quickly pointing out dishes (like the Goan king fish curry) that are inspired from (his own) grandmother's recipes. We begin with some pizza-style kakhra, available with anarray of different toppings, served with dips. The egg burji topping served with a delicious umpkin dip and the plain classic with a ridge gourd dip are our picks from the lot. The murgh tikka malai with melted cheese, is a tad heavy, but the delightfully light stuffed panki, a Gujarati dish much like a neer dosa (available with stuffing such as palak corn, chatpata mushroom and spicy chicken among others) served with three different kinds of chutney (horseradish, tomato and pudina) has us asking for seconds.
We take a tour outside the restaurant,where Chef Aaron points out the chicken coops (they raise their own chickens) and a hibiscus flower patch (used in our iced tea). “We want to stand apart in a way that over time, we grow most of our ingredients here itself,” he says. For the main course, he recommends from the ‘periya combo’ section of the menu, the Nargasi quail egg makhni curry, a rich gravy with boiled quail eggs wrapped in kheema, served with rice. Vegetarians can opt for a healthy masala millet kichadi, served with Gujarati kadhi and rice. However, for big groups, the chef recommends the country matka chicken — chicken wrapped in banana leaves, cooked in a clay pot over charcoal, served with dal, rice, and salad. As the pot is broken in front of us ceremoniously to serve the dish, we cannot help but fall in love with the perfectly cooked chicken, which tastes as good as it smells.
With little room for dessert, we try the gajar ka halwa samosas served with cotton candy, a sure hit with all those who have a sweet tooth. But we admit that our allegiances lie with the gulab jamun cheesecake, that ticked all the boxes including texture and taste.
Desi Di opens today. Meal for two: Rs 1,000 onwards. At 618, Pilkington Road, Ayanavaram. Details: 26147971