Wild west and sweet nothings at Brijwasi's first restaurant
At Makhan, Brijwasi's first restaurant at Kalbadevi, expect lip-smacking Rajasthani and Gujarati fare without the residue (and guilt) of oil. Its traditional fare holds its own even in an area flanked by formidable, age-old competitors, finds Kareena N Gianani
I am inexplicably eager to dine at Makhan, Brijwasi’s first restaurant, at Kalbadevi. Then, I think, may be it isn’t that inexplicable, after all. There is a childhood memory of my father opening a Brijwasi (always Brijwasi) mithai box to reveal foil-coated chamcham. Squeals follow. There is also one of an idyllic afternoon spent walking through Kalbadevi higgledy-piggledy khau gallis, scents of comfort food from the nearby Friends Joshi Union Club, Thacker Bhojanalaya and Surti, wafting out to tease. My expectations duly put into context, a friend and I walk into Makhan, and wonder whether it can really live up to the legends who have stood the test of time at Kalbadevi. The restaurant, done up in earthy yellows and maroons, is spacious and humble -- which we think is delightfully in sync with the neighbourhood.
Makhan offers an array of beverages (Kairi Panna, Jaljeera, Chhaas, Shikanji and so on), Farsan (Pyaaz Ki Kachori, Amiri Khaman, Mirchi Bada among others), Chaat, Mini Meals (we notice the Paneer Makai Stuffed Chilla and Fada ni Masala Khichdi and Dahi), and much, much more.
We start with a bottle of Masala Chhaas (Rs 70) which is rich, amply shaken and stirred with green chillies, rock salt and other masalas. Next up comes the Handvo (Rs 120), a Gujarati savoury pancake-like dish, made of dals and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I must admit neither my friend nor I have tasted Handvo before, and now, Makhan has set unexpectedly high standards -- we both hope the other person leaves the last bite of the soft, light and crumbly Handvo which is so perfectly seasoned with ajwain, hing and sarson.
Next arrives the Gattey Ki Subzi aur Satpadi Paratha (Rs 150). We had expected ghee-laden parathas with a subzi vying for the same quality. We see none of that anywhere and wait to see if the dish can still work its magic. It does -- the soft gattey in an adequately-spiced subzi work solely because of the flavour of the masalas, not the oil.
The only caveat in this otherwise good dish -- the flavours veer toward a Punjabi dish more than Rajasthani. This, however, doesn’t stop my friend from sheepishly accepting an extra satpadi paratha to go with the subzi.
We glance at the Dal Baati Choorma (how could we not?) (Rs 150) and think of distant Rajasthani meals had in homes where the dish is prepared with what, to us, seems near-impossible perfection.
The Baati and churma are delicious -- and, again, aren’t dripping ghee -- but the dal is rather unremarkable. We’d suggest you skip it and order the excellent Tadka Khichdi with Spicy Kadhi (Rs 130). It is raging with spices (we love its temper) and finds the perfect companion in the khichdi. Missing it would have been blasphemous and we are glad we aren’t guilty.
Apart from not being swathed in oil, we also notice how the dishes at Makhan are generous, yet enough for one. We later learn it is a deliberate decision because Kalbadevi’s eateries see asteady stream of single diners (mostly men who work in the area).
We end the meal with the Jaipur Special Paneer Ghewar (Rs 120). We resolve, right there, never to ask sweets and new year resolutions to be amiable bedfellows. Enough said.
Amid and after a meal, there are silences of two kinds. One shuffles, shifts its feet and is accompanied by rolling eyes -- that’s for food which didn’t meet expectations. Makhan, however, elicits the other kind of silence -- the kind that sighs, is followed by glazed eyes and vacant smiles, and an unspoken decision to return.