But first, haleem from Pot Pot in Delhi

But first, haleem from Pot Pot in Delhi

In pandemic times, Pot Pot tries to recreate the wonder of the smoky smells of the tandoor and fresh-out-of-the-degh flavours

Among all that I really miss in these restricted times is the sound of a degh being opened in a small lane in Old Delhi. The degh would contain haleem, a dish that never fails to warm the cockles of my heart. Its aroma would embrace all of us, waiting to buy a plate of the meat-and-wheat dish.

Until last year, I used to get a large pot of Hyderabad’s special haleem delivered during Ramzan. This year, of course, the service was suspended. I was moping about that when I learnt that a food outlet called Pot Pot (potpot.in) had haleem (and a whole lot of other delicacies) on the menu.

The place is run by Varun Tuli, who is one of the most talented chefs I have come across. I first had his food when we went with a group of friends to his restaurant Yum Yum Tree, which offered various kinds of sushis (among other Oriental dishes). The restaurant closed after some years, and he opened Yum Yum Cha in Khan Market. And now there is Pot Pot.

Pot Pot’s food is delivered in Delhi and Gurugram, and it is open all days from 12 noon upto 11 pm. They have a pickup point in Udyog Vihar, Gurugram, and plan to open one in GK 1 in Delhi. These days, the best delivery services focus on hygiene, and their food is delivered in earthenware placed in cloth bags.

Pot Pot gives a nice twist to Indian dishes: For instance the menu includes miso masala fish (₹585) and truffle galaouti slider (₹485). I had their spicy lotus root bhel (₹285), which was a delicious mix of crunchy lotus roots and peanuts, flavoured with lime juice and a Thai dressing. The bacon-wrapped tandoori prawn (₹585) was grilled in a tandoor, giving it a pleasantly smoky taste.

The malai broccoli (₹345) had florets also grilled in a tandoor and then topped with cream (I would have liked it without the cream). But I really enjoyed the mini Jaipuri mattar (₹585), a dish that consisted of mildly sweet peas, tempered with hing, raw turmeric and shahi jeera in ghee, and garnished with ginger slivers.

A dish called the blackest pot turned out to be dal makhni. But it wasn’t heavy, nor had the flavours been overwhelmed by butter or cream. It was a smoky mix of urad and chana dals which had been cooked on slow heat for 24 hours.

Lotus chaat from Pot Pot

The menu includes interesting rotis (truffle kulcha, roomali roti flavoured with saffron, with spinach and so on) and rice dishes. I had the bisi bele bhaat (₹445), prepared with dal pappu, rice, gunpowder and peanuts, and served up with mint raita (₹445).

The dishes come with chutneys and condiments: mango chutney, mint chutney, and crushed garlic and chillies.

The haleem (₹685) was more meaty than usual, but the cracked wheat added texture and taste to the dish that’s as nourishing as it is flavoursome. I took a bowl of that, added crispy onions on top, along with ginger slivers and green chillies, and really didn’t need anything more. I could smell the aroma of freshly cooked haleem. And, just for a moment, I was back in Old Delhi.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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