There are days when one yearns for a home-style South Indian meal in a not-so-ostentatious place. More importantly, you can be in slippers and tracks. The newly opened Carnatic Cafe in GK2 market seemed to be just the right place to go for a lazy night meal, and so here I was, with my young girl and husband in tow, to eat and share my take on it.
Located in Greater Kailash 2 M Block market, it’s actually a pleasure to find an unpretentious place in the midst of swanky restaurants. It enjoys a convenient location on the ground floor with big glass windows overlooking the road.
M-21, M Block Market, Greater Kailash (GK) 2
There was ample space for parking.
9 AM to 10.30 PM
As I walked into the Carnatic Cafe, I felt I was transported into a tiffin room sort of a place. Spartan yet clean, the cafe comes with large windows, a wall art, stainless steel topped tables, and comfortable chairs and benches. Surprisingly, the space didn’t feel inadequate. It did not have the typical feel of a South Indian restaurant. The staff was courteous, well informed, and dressed smartly in unisex yellow kurtas and pants. We were serviced by a very sweet girl who seemed to be studying and working part time there. I was happy to be there.
Now, I’m no expert in South Indian cuisine, but was accompanied by my young lady who had done four years of college in Mangalore. So, I was grateful for getting insight into the cuisine.
For starters, tried Paddu (₹135) which were 6 crunchy crispy shallow fried rounders of lentils and rawa batter, with onions, coriander, and green chillies. Served with sambhar and the 3 ubiquitous chutneys in red, white and green, they reminded me of doughnut holes and were absolutely sinfully delicious.
I had asked for Dahi Idli after the fried paddus. Since that was not on the menu, the Dahi Vada (₹110) replaced the idli. It had a tasty portion of light and fluffy vada and sweet yoghurt with crunchy ‘Boondi’ (fried gram flour drops).
The Shant Shanti Majige (₹70) was the simple stomach-happy buttermilk. It was light, smooth, appropriately salted, and garnished with curry leaves. It was nice, but I like my buttermilk better with a hint of ginger and tempering of mustard seeds.
The Mysore Plain Dosa (₹125) was passable. The young lady had had better and felt it was too thick, but it was definitely cripy. She felt the sambar lacked the tangy taste and should have had a hint of sweetness, too, but I was quite happy with the clean flavors.
Interestingly, they had Ragi Dosa (₹140) on the menu, something I had not seen in the typical South Indian eateries in Delhi. We tried the masala version, and it was delicious. Ragi or finger millet is an extremely rich source of calcium, and I was pleased to have a healthy version of dosa here.
On recommendations of my waitress, I tried the Malleswaram 18th Cross (₹140). Named after a nostalgic street in Bangalore, this is the house special. This rich thick dosa, crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, is smeared with chutney podi and white butter. It is sinfully delicious and a must-have dish.
For dessert, we decided to try Obbatu (₹120), the other option being Kesri bath which is a pineapple rawa halwa. It had 2 crepes stuffed with jaggery and some chickpea flour, with a hint of cardamom. It was quite nice, but definitely not delightful. Obbatu was served with a bowl of warm milk, probably as a dipping sauce to soften the crepes, but it looked little strange.
I ended the meal with the signature bitter head coffee(₹70) which had a hint of nutmeg. What can I say, except that it was bitter!
Would I go back again? Yes, I guess I would, for the warmth of a home cooked meal without the frills, for the healthy ragi options, and to try the ragi roti, the mustard or tamarind rice and the Paddu.
A meal for 3 with starters and dessert costs about ₹1500