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Cracker of a place

Great décor, a spread of regional cuisines and soothing music make this new restaurant in Gurugram’s Ardee Mall a treat to visit

What’s music got to do with food? How much does a playlist matter in a restaurant? Well, a lot if the food is not good. In the case of Maachis — Houseful of India, the delicacies are crafted with utmost precision while the soothing beats of old Bollywood music keep you warm company.

Nestled on the 3rd floor of one of Gurugram’s newest hangout spots Ardee Mall, the restaurant at first glance looks like a bar from a classic Bollywood movie. Orange coloured woodwork on the walls, classic wooden structures acting as partition between tables, and traditional flooring to walk on. The restaurant interiors are designed in a timeless fashion, leaving you with no doubt that it’s a new space.

The USP of the restaurant is that it serves its guests selected dishes from different regions of the country, with a bit of twist either in flavour or presentation. While there are dishes which are available in most upmarket restaurants, the business model depends on traditional regional dishes.

However, one thing which would make Maachis a much-talked-about establishment among the sophisticated Gurugram crowd, is the fact that the food is curated by Michelin recommended Chef Gautam Chaudhary. The whole menu is a testimony to the diversity of India.

Even the seating style at the restaurant has been given a lot of thought, as one finds different kinds of tables and chairs. From roundtable seating with comfortable sofas to upright straightbacked chairs, the restaurant boasts of great variety.

The menu is diverse as you come across categories like ‘Regional Tapas,’ ‘Chit Chaat Bazaar,’ ‘Bun Pao,’ ‘Regional Plates’ and ‘Kids Meals’ too.

After contemplating, and discussing with Restaurant Manager Sanjay, we thought to start with the right order which is the soup section.

Gosht Yakhni Shorba (Rs 275), Plum Tomato & Sweet Pepper Soup (Rs 250) and Roasted Pumpkin Soup (Rs 250) — all the three soups from the section came on the table in no time.

In our sight were three wooden bottles with three shot glasses, each filled with the three soups. Plum Tomato & Sweet Pepper Soup was easily the star among the three with strong flavour of tomato, but not at all too tangy. Sweet pepper worked its way beautifully keeping the tanginess a notch down, making it delightful to the taste buds. Being a meat lover myself, this soup easily won my heart with its superb execution.

The Ghost Yakhni Shorba with chunks of mutton and super creamy texture is an experience for a meat lover. The shot glass makes you greedy and you ask for more.

As we were finishing our soup, three gorgeous-looking mocktails arrived at our table. Part of the ‘Signature Beverages’ selection of the restaurant, the Kalakhatta (Rs 225), Chilli Guava (Rs 225) and Imli Bunta (Rs 195) are to die for.

It’s only rarely you get to have drinks which don’t leave you disappointed about not being able to savour alcoholic beverages. These three drinks were just that.

Imli Bunta is your childhood in a glass, taking you down memory lane when all we could care about was the tanginess of imli. Kalakhatta too, did not disappoint at all. Converting the classic kalakhatta chuski is a great idea to woo Mocktail lovers. While Chilli Guava has a strong flavour but must not be missed.

Tempered Beets & Coconut Salad (Rs 295) is dominated by mustard & curry leaf and a must for beetroot lovers.

To start munching on some starters, we ordered Kashmiri Naan Kebab (Rs 325) with mutton. Resting atop the saffron brushed naan, the mutton was cooked to perfection. No complaints from our side.

Naga Ghost Pepper Wings (Rs 325) flavoured with ‘Bhoot Jholakia’ the famous chilli pepper from the Northeast was all about the very chilli pepper. We felt the chicken wings could’ve been little softer.

Irani Samosa with Lamb (Rs. 295) is a light dish with minced not-so-spicy lamb as stuffing. An interesting dish we really liked was Podi Kodi (Rs 325) which is Maachis’ take on the Andhra classic Natu Kodi. It’s tenderly cooked chicken flavoured with fresh and famous podi masala. This dish is a must have if you remotely like the podi masala.

As we stuff ourselves up to try the great ensemble of dishes Maachis has to offer, the music playing in the space sets your mood just right. From Kishore Kumar to other artists’ retro classics to house mixes, the playlist in Maachis is carefully curated to get the evening on a calm note.

As we browsed the menu further, it was time was to savour dishes from the main course section. First up was Chur Chur Parantha which has five toppings to choose from. We went with Mutton Do Pyaza (Rs 450). The dish is a first for Delhi, perhaps. Although Chur Chur Naan is a daily affair on the many streets of Delhi, but to make it part of the curries of North India is not very surprising but a great idea. The very idea wins the money here.

Two soft Chur Chur Paranthas made with four different flours and different stuffings settled on our table instantly as we ordered. The parantha looks quite tempting as the shiny mutton do pyaza gravy tries to woo you further. Each bite is heaven calling.

Parsi Dhansak (Rs 425) is served spicy at most places, but at Maachis, the spicy level is lowered a bit. The rice settled in the middle with curry filling up the whole plate is a delightful sight. The curry is very textured as aromatic spices do their work.

Another dish at our table was Amritsari Trail (Rs 375). With two options to choose from, the dish is “straight from the streets of Amritsar” with Tawa Masala chillis served with tamarind soaked onions and mini stuffed kulchas.

The nutri kulcha which has taken the street food scene of Delhi NCR by storm is a must try and in the restaurant it comes in a great set up which basically brings Punjab on your table. A cute little traditional bowl is put on a metal stand, which lets the kulcha sleep peacefully on the other side.

Last, but without doubt one of the best of the restaurant, is Red Hot Kerala Fish Curry with Coconut Rice (Rs 495). Tangy Kottayam fish curry cooked with “kudampuli” or black tamarind, red chillies, & fresh coconut in a traditional earthen pot or ‘manchaati.’

The way Maachis has used coconut as an ingredient in most of the dishes is commendable. The flavour of coconut in this dish too is to die for. The rice boasts of the aroma produced by coconut leaving you quite ecstatic.

On the other hand, the fish curry is finely cooked with black tamarind, giving you true flavours of the Southern land.

To end our food trail at Maachis, we were given the ‘homemade’ Gulkand ice-cream. For Gulkand lovers it’s a treat and for others, it’s a satisfactory dessert.

Maachis is a superb attempt to craft and produce remarkable and very selective dishes from different corners of the country. It’s up to you which state’s dish you would like to grace your table. The end result will leave you happy to shell out some bucks on a night filled with amazing food and music which becomes part of the conversations.