Yellow Chilli, from Sanjeev Kapoor
Years before food enthusiasts in India started talking about who cooked what in the previous evening’s MasterChef Australia, discussing which exotic Foie gras dish they ate while on their foreign vacation, and more… Sanjeev Kapoor was among the handful of celebrity chefs in the country opening up our taste buds to dishes in a world, before the internet. So naturally, I was quite excited to have been invited to Yellow Chilli on Church Street, Bangalore to try out what they had to offer. For the uninitiated, Yellow Chilli features a variety of dishes, specially designed by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor from his travels across India. This casual dining restaurant aims to offers simple Indian dishes with a little twist to tease ones taste buds.
I was already quite full from a lunch with a friend earlier in the day and wasn’t too sure whether my stomach would be up to sampling too many dishes. My partner in crime for the evening decided to be vegetarian; that worked out well for me, else I may have only stuck to trying out only the non-vegetarian dishes. I was driving that evening, so liquor was off limits, another thing that worked in my favour because we thoroughly enjoyed the mocktails we ordered. The Peru Pyala, a signature favourite, mixed guava juice with lemon, mint and a dash of red chilli powder to balance out the sweetness of the guava and mint. Distinct flavours hitting different parts of ones tongue made this our favourite too. The Santratantra was less bold in terms of flavours. Bringing together orange juice, roasted fennel and ginger, the mocktail was supposed to help with digestion. No guesess as to who ordered this.
The appetizers had one vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish each. The Harippa Paneer Tikka, a signature dish, was spicy but didn’t overpower the palate with spicy flavours. Having had a lot of very soft paneer off late, the paneer itself was relatively tougher. Slightly thicker slices with a softer paneer and a mild sweet element to balance out the dish out would have taken this dish from ‘nice’ to ‘great’. The Chandi Kalyan, a chicken tikka kabab with cheese and lemon butter, adorned with a silver foil was a stand out dish. Extremely tender chicken with a nice balance of flavours, made this signature dish something I would order the next time I would go there. Balanced out with the creamy yogurt onions on the side, the mild citrus hit of the lemon butter and the saltiness of the cheese that gave way to a mildly spiced chicken tikka…. I have goosebumps thinking about it as I write.
For the main course also, we stuck to one vegetarian and non-vegetarian signature dish, with some rotis and naans. The Lapta Chicken was something I had read about previously, and was also the first dish we were recommended. The dish consists of slices of chicken with garlic, peppercorn, fennel and chillies. In terms of flavour, the garlic and fennel are the dominating flavours, and the predominant aroma of the dish. While the flavours were all in place, I couldn’t help but feel just a bit underwhelmed. I don’t know why. On the other hand, the vegetarian dish that was recommended, the Anglo Indian Bahaar was delicious. The dish is mix of mushroom, babycorn, broccoli, bell peppers, and onions in a burnt garlic and tomato masala, served over spinach. Now that’s how you take a vegetarian dish and make it awesome. The medley of flavours was delightful and made me go back for seconds, and thirds. A thumbs up to Sanjeev Kapoor for creating this dish and to the team for recreating this. The latter outshined the former in terms of flavour, aroma and expectations by miles and was worthy of being deemed a signature dish. I must also mention the Peshawari Naan, a naan with fennel, pistachio and black sesame that was a perfect accompaniment for the main course. I wanted to try the famed Lalla Mussa Dal, but had just enough space for dessert. I’ve got to keep something for the next time.
For the dessert, we were recommended the Gulab-e-Gulkand. The description said that the dish was a gulab jamun stuffed with rose petal compote. If ever there were ever a description of a dish that underplayed what the dish actually was, this one would have one the Pulitzer. What arrived was an frighteningly large gulab jamun adorned with gulkand and rose petals. First thoughts, I was glad the two of us were sharing one dish. The dessert was hot, quite rich in terms of flavour and a little too sweet for my tastes. We were barely a third through when the sugar hit both of us and we couldn’t proceed. The restaurant gave us a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, which all of a sudden made the daunting flavour of the dessert a lot easier to conquer. While the ice cream isn’t part of the dish, I do recommend you order the ice cream.
Yellow Chilli’s traditional ambiance stays true to the good old clean family dining experience that one expects. The staff were a tad too over-attentive to our table, (no guesses why) but weren’t leaving anything lacking when it came to service to everyone at the restaurant. There were three large groups of families, each with at least fifteen people that evening, but no one seemed to be looking around for a waiter or be waiting between courses for food. Yellow Chilli offers a lunch buffet priced at INR 599++ and NR 499++ for non veg and veg respectively. Dinner is a’la carte and a meal for two should work out to around INR 1300 without liquor.