For good or bad, we all are a few “types”. We are either the Allen Solly or the Fab India type, the slip or the lace shoe type, the restro bar or the family restaurant type… there can be a zillion more.
I am not the Indian thali in a faux ethnic setting type. I never went to Chokhi Dhani despite being to Jaipur so many times. I strictly avoid the Rajasthan stall at Delhi Haat and all other such made up places. What if the food is awesome? That’s a risk I have always been willing to take, you see, you can’t make a face and enjoy your meal at the same time.
But everything changed one evening. We saw the most powerful and moving message that one’s eyes can see – Buy one Get one FREE. That’s the Harry Potterish magic charm that turns man into a missile.
We had been to the Great India Place wala outlet earlier and knew that this is a deal that no sane man would miss. So, in under two seconds we were seated at the Rajdhani Thali Restaurant. It’s at the back of the DLF Mall in Saket, not too hard to find.
The moment you enter, a traditionally dressed guy will open the door, do a teeka and usher you in. Good start, who does not want to feel like a guest of the Indian government! The most comforting thing about the place is there are no menus. So, no fighting with your siblings, no looking at the right hand column and no pain of selecting four items from sixty on offer.
You sit down. Huge steel plates with some 15 bowls are already laid out on every table. A guy comes in with a brass vessel for hand washing and then all you do is wait. It takes a little time to start and then the waves crash one after another.
Starts with Dal, Baati, Churma, a desi salad and a few chutneys. The serving is a little haphazard at times, you will get a few curries in advance, you will wait for the rotis and polish the curries anyway. But I won’t generalize about that.
The restaurant, across all chains, excels at service. There are the serving boys and there are the empty plate spotters. The moment a corner of your plate is empty, he will shout out and someone will come and heap something on your plate.
In terms of ambiance, the one at Saket is better than both the Connaught Place and the Great India Place one. We went to the CP one at around seven in the evening. They were just starting dinner service. So, we had to sit on the small cramped ground floor seating despite there being better arrangements on the second floor.
We had taken a relative with us and I was concerned the wrong seating had ruined the whole experience. But then came the Chaach and the Dahi Vada. Our guest had three of them back to back, so that was a winner. I loved the meethi dal at Saket, the saag at CP, the anjeer halwa at Saket, the halwa and the rabdi jalebi at CP.
Now, it is difficult to walk you through all the dishes we were served, so let me give you the highlights. You will be served three kinds of rotis, some days, there is puri too. The server will pour a spoon of ghee on your roti. You get rice and khichdi, the khichdi is awesome and the server will pour a spoon of ghee on your khichdi. The dal and baati thing is nice and the server will pour a spoon of ghee on your dal and baati. If you are swift enough, you can stop him before he pours it, though.
The Saket branch has a little theatrics that none of the other branches have. There is a huge bell that people ding with a wooden hammer, when it rings, all the staff shout out something in Gujarati. With taxes, the thali comes to around Rs.450 per person. Now, that isn’t cheap but at today’s rates, not too expensive either. It’s a good experience and if you are treating someone, this is better than most other restaurants.