Tucked between the nondescript shops of Adchini is a small restaurant called Rustom's Parsi Bhonu. As you climb up the stairs, you get a whiff from the kitchen and experience the kind of pang you get when you enter your favourite aunt's kitchen. A tiny yet comfortably spaced dining hall makes you feel you've dialled a wrong number. It almost seems like you've entered someone's private space. You stare into a wooden crockery stocked cupboard, some yesteryear pictures neatly framed and an antique clock. The white/cream curtains behind, remain drawn. The sunlight trickles in and slightly warms up the air-conditioned room.
That's the idea behind Kainaz Contractor and Rahul Dua's Parsi Bhonu. Kainaz belongs to the Parsi community and was born and brought up in Mumbai. With Rustom's, she brings to Delhi, food that is found nowhere but in her house as well as that of her relatives. The food speaks and here's how!
Greeted by a complimentary plate of Parsi Saria or fried sabudana and onion chips, we ordered Pallonji's Soda, Raspberry flavour (Rs 60) and Raspberry iced tea (Rs 120) to start with. The Pallonji's soda is available in Mumbai's famous Parsi cafes and is imported to Rustom's from that city. Pallonji's is quite sweet on its own but goes well with heavily spiced food. The Raspberry iced tea on the other hand was refreshing. On another visit, I even requested the same with Soda and my customised drink was heaps better than Pallonji's.
We were informed by the serving staff that the portions are heavy and we should order to our appetite. We went ahead and ordered the egg-free version of Soya Pattice (Rs 225). A portion contains two pieces. I bit into a crisp layer followed by a fluffy potato mash in which were hidden the spicy soya granules. If this is not comfort food I don't know what is. The pattice comes without the usual accompanying condiments and are a welcome change as they are good on their own.
We picked the Dhansak Veg combo (Rs 395) from Rustom's combo specials for the main course. The Dhansak or spiced masala dal is a Parsi staple and comes with caramelised rice topped with onions and vengna kababs (eggplant kebabs) and a side of kachumber salad drizzled with Parsi cane vinegar. Though this wasn't my first experience of having dhansak at a restaurant, it definitely was the best. It was a robust preparation, not too thick and very unlike the dal we are used to eating up North. It went well with the slightly caramelised rice and the vengna kababs were one of their kind. It was my first taste of kebabs made from eggplants and if you are an eggplant lover like me, chances are you'd love what Rustom's serve. Rustom's may have the distinction of being the only ones in Delhi serving them. If you know of more such places, do tell me! I ate them with a Malai na Parantha (Rs 80) which was soft and tasted something like what you'd carry in your school/office tiffin. Nothing exceptional there, and no need either. A parantha is a parantha.
The Caramel Custard (Rs 225) was a delight. Light, and not too sweet with a perfect caramelised top, this beauty held itself with elegance. The Lagan Nu Custard (Rs 225) studded with nuts and raisins with a hint of cardamom was a delight too. It was heavier than the Caramel Custard. It is meant to be so as Parsis tend to make it for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and such. I paid a special solo visit to Rustom's to try this one and it did not disappoint.
My only regret: if one has to taste more from the menu one has to go back two/three times. I am going back to try their other vegetarians options and update this space. The staff at Rustom's are helpful, interactive, non intrusive and well-informed. On my way out I picked a packet of Dhansak Masala to help me cut my dhansak making time at home to a great degree. Rustom's also stocks pickles, Parsi cane vinegar and more. Go pick!
Aurobindo Marg - 94 A/B, Adchini, Aurobindo Marg
New Delhi 110017
Phone: 011 33106450