Get a taste of lockdown meals at Café Lota

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In these trying times, stories of courage and kindness keep our spirits up. My friend Ashish was telling me on the phone how he and his friends and family had been feeding some 2,500 labourers every day. Indeed, there are people across the country who have been doing what they can to make a difference to people’s lives.

What talking to Ashish (who also runs a picturesque resort in a place called Sonapani in the Kumaon hills), I asked him about his food delivery business. Ashish and his partners run Café Lota in Delhi, Roots and some other outlets, and had started a superb food service called Melting Pot Tiffins. This had been suspended, he said. But I think our conversation enthused him, and he wrote back to say that he was resuming it.

It is not as elaborate as it once was, but Melting Pot Tiffins offers some delicious food. The dishes — neatly packaged in plastic containers in a cardboard carton — are called Lota Special Lockdown meals, and are delivered between 12 noon and 9 pm from Café Lota. You can also pre-order and pick them up from the restaurant, which is next to Pragati Maidan, between noon and 6 p.m. (9990247940 for WhatsApp messages; 7838960787).

Molgapodi Idli Special Arrangement  

The menu offers some signature regional dishes and a collection of small plates (between ₹200 and ₹275): idlis with gun powder, a chaat prepared with two kinds of muttar, beetroot kababs, chicken idlis, fish chops.

The main meals include favourites from Bihar, Rajasthan, and Kerala, among others. On the menu are Rajasthani Chicken Mokul, kurkuri bhindi, jeera rice and bajrey roti (₹680); DIY Do Muttar Key Chaat, Paneer Pasanda and Tawa Pudina Parantha (₹635); besan key gattey kurkuri bhindi, gatta pulao and khoba roti (₹475); Anand’s Fish Chop, Toddy Shop Fish Curry, red rice, appam (₹800); beetroot Shikhampuri, Kachcha Aam Prawn Curry, flat appam, red rice (₹820).

My dinner was superb. One of the meals was Bihari and consisted of crispy aloo methi, aloo chokha, baigan chokha, teekha pyaaz and sattu ka paratha (₹540).

Then there was molgapodi idli, Suriyani chicken stew, flat appam and red rice (₹700).

The chokhas were nice and spicy, and the aloo methi was delicious and went very well with the sattu filled parathas. Of course, the crunchy onions added to the taste. Both the Kerala mango prawn curry and the chicken stew were sublime — the curries were light and fragrant, and the prawns and chicken wonderfully succulent. I enjoyed the Kerala chicken stew and flat appams too.

The fish chop (created by chef Anand, hence the name) was, again, excellent. Chef Udit of Café Lota tells me that they use rahu, which they boil and mash, then turn into patties, sautéed with a coating of crusty semolina. The chicken idlis were interesting too — minced chicken steamed and garnished with curry leaves and chillies. The chicken was meltingly soft, and the south Indian spices gave it a nice touch.

I hope Lota’s Lockdown meals bring succour to people’s lives. “There is nothing like comfort food during these trying times,” Café Lota says. True, that.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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