New Delhi is not the easiest place for a moilee-loving Malayalee. But it’s getting there. Over the last couple of years, restaurants focusing on southern or coastal cuisine are peppering the capital. The latest addition is the Coast Café at Ogaan.
It boasts the best location in Delhi’s trendy Hauz Khas Village – right across the road from the parking lot, so you can avoid the narrow lanes. And, yes, it has an elevator - a huge bonus in the area, especially in the sweltering summer.
Coast Café’s decor is understated, with splashes of bright colors, white hues and windows overlooking a lot of green: ideal for a Sunday lunch.
The menu is something of a fusion. Other than moilees, they also have tacos, burgers, salads and pastas. We steered clear of everything non-Kerala-esque. It was time to revisit some culinary moorings, perhaps.
For drinks, we went for the Superpowers’ Pink Ginger Lemonade and a Coke. The lemonade was fantastic; it was fizzy, with just the right undertone of ginger to wash down a spicy meal.
For starters, we had the Kerala Fish Fry, the Sukha Mutton Fry and Eat-With-Your-Hands Kerala Grilled Chicken.
The fish was batter-fried with sprinkles of chili powder – sort of like a British fish ‘n chips meets home-style fish fry. It was served with a delicious mint chutney and the portion was enough for two. The mutton was excellent, loaded with coconut and curry leaves. It was well-spiced, but not too hot either. We had this as finger food, but it’s probably better paired with the Malabar parottas -- or with a cold beer!
The grilled chicken was perfect. A nicely done leg and a thigh, with spicy potato wedges. True to its name, it was best eaten sans cutlery. You can ask for the chicken with or without skin, and we went with the skin. Evidently cooked on a rotisserie, the meat was juicy on the inside and crisp outside.
For mains, we ordered the Simple Prawn Curry with rice and the Rainy Day Chicken Stew with appams. The red prawn curry was perfect and reminiscent of home, with a generous helping of prawns. While the curry was spicy, the flavors weren’t overpowering – and went really well with the plain steamed rice. Essentially, it was a simple coconut milk-based gravy, with red chili powder and curry leaves. The chicken stew was not so typical: much thicker and creamier than your naadan stew. The pieces of chicken are pre-grilled in a tandoor and dunked in the gravy, giving it a nice north Indian spin.
We were pretty much bursting at the seams now, but dessert beckoned. We got a slice of the Tiramisu and a Buckwheat Nutella Crepe. The Tiramisu was one of the best I’ve had in Delhi, bettering the famous Big Chill and Diva desserts. They served us a big wedge, and the chef doesn’t skimp on the rum or the coffee. Definitely don’t miss this melt-in-your-mouth Tiramisu. The crepe, on the other hand, didn’t stand out particularly. It was served unfolded with a generous spread of Nutella and almonds, but got cold very quickly and lost its original flavors.
The service, although a little on the slow side, was well-informed and polite. The prices weren’t too bad - our bill was 4,000 rupees.
I’d go back to Coast Cafe for the 10-on-10 prawn curry, the grilled chicken and the topnotch Tiramisu. I remain curious about the tacos (they looked really good at the other tables), the Sangria (because, why not!) and the carrot cake.
(Photos by Suzannah Benjamin)