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Gunpowder: Homestyle Avial, fish fry and Malabar Parottas in Delhi

It’s not a place that the average Dilliwallah who expects a restaurant to visibly be a restaurant (of their imaginations) is likely to appreciate. Instead of a shiny someplace wedged between retail stores in an indistinct mall—where you can alight from your ac car and move into an air-conditioned environ, not a hair out of place, here, you literally need to work up an appetite.

Gunpowder is a tiny eatery, set up by former jurno Satish Warrier, in the narrow gallis of Hauz Khas Village. Take the turn into the village from Naivedyam as soon as you enter the ethnic sprawl and keep going, following the many twists and turns of the winding lane (there are boards to help you) until you arrive at the building, with its entrance at the back, past a dump, that houses Gunpowder. A steep climb up and you are on the third floor into a tiny seating area with a couple of non-fancy plastic chairs and tables, a lovely balcony from where it is possible to see the entire Hauz Khas Village and its surrounding greenery, and an open kitchen from where Warrier and a cook that he has hired serve out your food. And what a lovely meal it turns out to be.

The restaurant is a welcome addition to Delhi’s growing restaurant scape not just for the cuisine it offers – from Kerala; though on the day we visited there was an excellent mango pappu too on the (handwritten) menu and my colleague in office has promised Warrier to find him a Tamil cook too, so may be they are going to attempt a more ambitious home-style menu catering to the entire peninsula— but because it is such a refreshing change from the kind of “characterless” restaurants that abound in the city. Warrier cooks the meal himself; the menu changes every day depending on the freshness of fish/meats/veggies available from the market. But the best part is the informality with which this is served. There is just one waiter; a sweetly smiling boy who doesn’t know much about what’s going on. But Warrier is always around; stopping by to chat at your table, play with the baby should one be accompanying you (ours was a group with two) and promising to make a special pongal for her “the next time you come”, and in general sharing their happiness with everyone that this, this restaurant, has been at all possible.

The food is excellent. The prices even better. On the day we went—four adults, two kids—we had a feast of several Malabari paranthas (that impressed me with the speed with which they came to our table even though this is such a small establishment) to scoop up chicken korma, vegetable stew, avail, fish fry, a delicious tomatoe and chilli chutney and mango pappu. We washed this down with several Diet Cokes and ended up paying just Rs 1,700 between all of us.

I love Gunpowder because it is so relaxed: You call for extra ice and they’ll bring it out in a tray straight from the fridge. There is a guitar lying in a corner as well as a laptop that Warrier pulls out (to do his accounts?), casually propping it on the kitchen top while he is talking to you and you can walk in in your chappals and eat with your hands as no doubt such food is meant to be, if you so like. There is none of that superficiality and artificial cheer foisted on us by visibly commercial restaurants. No “good evenings”, no “thank yous”, no eating in courses… The happiness is because you could be eating at home with a group of friends.

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4 Responses to “Gunpowder: Homestyle Avial, fish fry and Malabar Parottas in Delhi”

  1. sandeep bhogra says:

    totally agree on the warmth and home like ambience that such places have to offer. Great suggestion. Keep it going. There is another similiar place in INA market know for its kerela food called nadan thattu kada, shop no 61, mohan singh mkt. its a shanty where there is an aunty who prepares good food.

  2. Will definitely check it out Sandeep, sounds good.

  3. Colin Fernandes says:

    incorrect reportage.. Warier and Kiran are not married to each other. Just thought I’d clarify

  4. Hi Colin… I know, meant to change that… but thanks any way. And keep reading!