3 January 2017

The Masala Trail by Osama Jalali is here to stun you with their food!

A new addition to the bustling Janpath in Connaught Place, is The Masala Trail by Osama Jalali. What's so special about this place? It's a place that brings street food from all across India under one roof. No, we don't mean dosa idli and chhole bhature alone. We mean chaat from the streets of Benaras, food from the roads of Mysore, dishes from the homes of Bihar. We're talking about food you have most probably not tried before, but are getting to try every bit of the Indian street food at Masala Trail. Osama Jalali is a name that needs no introduction. A veteran in his field, Osama has known the heart and soul of Indian food and brought it to people in the most fine way possible. So when a place opens by him, you can blindly trust the flavours, the execution, the quality, the service, and everything that comes along with food. 

Situated on the main road of Janpath, spot a big attractive board with the TMT logo which is very hard to miss. Spread across two floors, ground and mezzanine, with 95 covers, I went to this all veg restaurant on the first or second day of its operations, and at 2PM in the afternoon there was a huge queue waiting to get inside. Unreal! A comfortable combination of chairs and sofa seating, mind-blowing decor, and a chatter of people welcomes you as soon you enter. The ceiling has a cart hanging from it with cycles and a scooter too. One side of the restaurant has a huge wall with a full size blown up auto. Such an attractive looking wall!

They had incorporated every possible detail in their decor and service. The glass at the entrance had shelves with containers in it, and these containers were filled with sweets and churans, all of which remind us of our childhood, our trips with family, and cultural diversity of our schools. The servers don't have their names written on the name tags, they have names by which we tend to call servers at places when we don't know their names, like Bhaiya, Uncle, Anna and so on. When you order for a chaat, the chaat is made in front of you on your table, so an element of theatrics too. It just keeps getting better and better with every passing minute!

Everything I ordered here was something I'd either never had before, or even if I did have it before, it's not easily available in Delhi. Tried Litti Chokha and Dal Baati Choorma, both of which I have had before, but they were more surreal here, more authentic and not overpowered with masalas. Litti is a Bihari dish which comes with balls stuffed with sattu, cooked and dipped in ghee, served with chokha which is made of chickpeas and tossed with onion, chilli, tomatoes. This came with a mashed tomato salad. Incredible comfort food! Dal Baati Choorma, a Rajasthani dish, comes with a yellow dal and choorma (which is sweet). The baati, which looks similar to a litti, is softer in texture as compared to the baati, and isn't filled with sattu. The dal took the cake away in this dish! piping hot dal that you could just go on eating spoon after spoon. Went so so well with the baati.

Something I would go back to Masala Trail for, not once but multiple times, is their Banarasi Tamatar Chaat. A street food item extremely famous in Benaras, the Tamatar ki Chaat here can be polished off within minutes! So light, so full of flavour, with a beautiful balance of sourness and sweetness, with makhaane mixed in the chaat, and served hot. A must must try here! Talking about chaat brings me to another chaat that I tried, Tower Chaat. The name gives it away here. It has chaat and it looks like a tower, but what it doesn't tell you is that it comes with three kinds of chaats, all stacked up on atop the other in this tower chaat. Chilled sweet curd, coriander chutney and saunth, aloo tikki, papdi, bhalle- it's incredible in taste! Anyone who is a chaat lover is going to go gaga over this one! 

Panki, a Gujarati street food item that's made with rice flour and cooked in banana leaves, is a perfect amalgamation of healthy+tasty. Very thin, tastes somewhat similar to idli, and comes with two chutneys- mint and coriander. A dish that's not heavy and you can simply snack on. Another out of the box street food item for me, something I'd never tried before, was the Banana Poori. Thin crisp fluffy pooris with a slightly sweet taste of banana, served with a mouth-watering aloo ki subji and coconut chutney. A Mangalorean dish, try this one to give a break to the North Indian aloo poori and experience the subtle sweetness in the poori which was not oily. Another chaat which is a must try for fried food lovers, and for people who love spicy or masaledar food, is Kachori. Comes with some kickass chhole on top, and every bite is a beautiful sin! 

Because I wanted to try a dosa, I was suggested to leave the masala and mysore versions and go with the Chalukya Dosa which is thick in texture and is crisp, and has a layer of Kannadiga red chutney coated on the interior. A very different dosa, makes you go wow on the first bite, and is complete with the chutneys and sambhar. 

Washed down my meal with Modi Nagar Shikanji and Bihari Namkeen Sattu which was quite a different drink! It's heavy, is like a liquid version of sattu mixed with onions, tomatoes and green chilli, and is salty in flavour. You get that 'chatak' when you taste it. Too good and too too different. Be open to trying out new things and you will like this.

Desserts at Masala Trail are simply stunning! Soft velvety gulab jamun, moong dal halwa which was spot on with the sugar and ghee, and the rice kheer which they've done an excellent job at, just like the other desserts.

There's not one thing at Masala Trail which was just good, everything was par excellence, everything was so full of flavour and so full of deliciousness, that you cannot help but overeat. You will be spoilt for choice with the huge menu that they have. East, west, north south, they have covered every nook and corner of India in the menu. And what's more- they have no onion and no garlic options for a lot of dishes on the menu! The staff is courteous, helps you with recommendations, the decor is lovely, the place is situated with close proximity to every part of Delhi, and the prices are a dream! Masala Trail doesn't have chefs, they have karigars. I think that is what makes their food so special. Believe me when I say they have food that's just beautiful in taste! There's something for everyone here. Osama Jalali and Vidur Kanodia, the makers of The Masala Trail, have done a brilliant job!

Timings: 10 AM to 11 PM
Address: 52, Janpath, New Delhi

Disclaimer: The review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. All views expressed are unbiased in nature but readers are advised to exercise their own discretion.

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