Until recently, Delhi was not a city where stand-alone regional cuisine eateries flourished. With the success of Gunpowder (a restaurant in Hauz Khas Village that serves home-style Malayalee food), chances are that restaurants such as the new Brown Sahib, which serves Bengali and Anglo-Indian cuisine, will attract the city’s ever experimental foodies.
The good stuff
The similarity between Brown Sahib and Gunpowder ends with the fact that both serve regional cuisine. Brown Sahib is a plush 44-cover restaurant where antiques dot the shelves and the servers are clad in kurtas and traditional Bengali-style flared dhotis. The menu is a clever mix of recipes from old-world clubs (the Anglo-Indian section in the menu) and dishes from a Bengali kitchen. So if you’re in the mood for Continental food as opposed to traditional jhols (curries), or chingri (prawns) and maach (fish), you can pick from starters such as melt-in-the-mouth Salmon Fish Cakes or main course items such as Chicken à la Kiev. Brown Sahib’s versions of these Anglo-Indian dishes, a staple on any Raj-era club’s menu, are certainly miles ahead of what the chef at, say, the Delhi Gymkhana doles out.
The option of ordering a thali is a great one, especially for those who are not familiar with Bengali cuisine. The Bengali thali (it starts at Rs375) includes shukto , bhaja, tomato pora, a vegetable preparation, saag, dal, rice, papad, chutney and dessert. For a little extra, you can replace the vegetable dish with either a seafood, a meat or a chicken dish.
After consulting the staff, we opted for Doi Begun (baby brinjals in yogurt gravy, Rs195), Bhaja Moong Dal (Rs145), Kosha Maangsho (lightly spiced mutton curry, Rs375) and Maachher Paturi (steamed fish with mustard marinade in banana leaf parcel, Rs450 for Betki fish).
If you’ve always harboured a desire to know brinjal more intimately, Brown Sahib’s Doi Begun is a must-try. The lovely yogurt gravy has a mild flavouring of roasted cumin and a tinge of sweetness. We were a little sceptical about the Maachher Paturi (a dish served during weddings or festivals in Bengal) when we opened the banana leaf wrapping and saw a thick layer of mustard marinade on the fish. But the fish was soft, flavourful and the marinade not so pungent that it overpowered all flavours. Aloor Dum with fluffy Luchis (refined flour puris) was a huge hit with the children.
Bhapa Doi (steamed yogurt, Rs125) is something of an acquired taste, we were warned, yet the slightly warm, mildly sweetened yogurt pudding was a refreshing change from the usual mishti doi available at Bengali sweet shops.
Most Bengali dishes we tried were minimally spiced with a single flavour that stood out with just a hint of sweetness in the recipe—a hallmark of authentic Bengali cuisine, colleagues hailing from the state tell me.
Chocolate lovers, steer clear of Spiced Chocolate and Pecan Pudding (Rs225). The overdose of cinnamon and clove drowned the taste of chocolate in this dessert.
The restaurant did not have a working credit card machine until last Sunday. Hopefully it should be functional by now, but do check.
A meal for two without alcohol, with one starter and two desserts, will cost around Rs1,800 (taxes and service charge extra).