A warm and hearty pocket-of-Pita

Here’s a quick note to recommend the ‘Pita Pocket‘ sandwich (seen above) at Cafe Turtle as a must-try. I will roll the caveat here – for those who are unaware, Cafe Turtle serves vegetarian food. There, that’s the big ‘gastro-mental’ hurdle to overcome. I usually find myself proximate to a Cafe Turtle only when I’m at the excellent Full Circle bookshop (which as a bookshop, is as omnivorous as they come). The last time around, I was not only near Cafe Turtle in the aforesaid manner, I was also near starvation.

The ‘Pita Pocket’ appears near the bottom of the list of Mains at the cafe, and offers a pita bread filled with falafel, lettuce and tomato, with tzatziki dressing. The sandwich was indeed filled with the promised goodness – the bread warm, soft and crumbly crisp, with the lettuce and tomato inside still crunchy. The falafel (2 of them), made with cottage cheese and bulgur wheat (from the menu, not that I could tell while eating it) were warm, dense and melt-y. I would have loved some more of the delicious tzatziki – drizzled liberally as it was on the outside, there was none inside. While it helped preserve the integrity of the stuff inside the ‘pocket’, a bit of tzatziki on the side would only have helped. Maybe I should have asked? So once again, here’s the hero of the piece.

Pita Pocket
Pita Pocket – Cafe Turtle

Hungry as I was, as you can see, I was unable to take a shot of the full sandwich. And I had to quickly take this picture before my other hand reached out for a second bite.

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Ahmedabad – Dhoklas, and dinner at The House of MG

Kanchuki, Nika & I got away for short break to The Little Rann of Kutch (migratory birds & wild asses!), Ahmedabad (the Sankranthi Kite Festival) and Mumbai (the Mumbai marathon) a few weeks ago.

At Ahmedabad, we stayed in a clean, friendly and cheap hotel called Hotel Volga, just off Relief Road. We checked in to the hotel at around noon and as soon as we had dropped off our bags, I hurried away to explore the restaurants near by.

Now, as you cross the road and walk towards Relief Cinema (yes – that is the name of the theater!), you will find a small hole-in-the-wall from where a matronly woman doles out the most delectable Dhoklas, Khandvis & Patras, all served with a soupy Kadhi and lightly fried green chillies. I couldn’t resist the temptation to try some, and asked her to give me a plate of Dhoklas to eat and to parcel a plate of Khandvi and Patras.

A generous mountain of Dhoklas was heaped onto a newspaper sheet, and they were moist, spongy and sweet-sour with the Kadhi, occasionally spiced by the crunch of  green chilly. I carried back the Khandvis & Patras guiltily, for I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it all. This little excursion of mine had cost me only Rs. 30!

On the way back, I decided to go around the block from Relief Cinema, and this proved to be a great decision, for I crossed The House of MG, the only heritage hotel in Ahmedabad (interesting tidbit – the hotel gives you “carbon credits” for using less electricity, which gets you a discount on the room bill!). The hotel is known for the roof-top restaurant Agashiye, which serves a traditional Gujarati meal – I secretly decided that the nights meal would be at Agashiye.

However, that was not to be! I ate too much during the day (I ate the Khandvis & Patras, followed by a lovely lunch at a friends home) and despite drinking a potent chooran-hajam drink on Nehru bridge, I was too full from the days excesses to indulge in the multi-course affair at Agashiye.

But not to worry – The Green House at the House of MG proved a good alternative!

The Green House is an outdoor restaurant (it’s called a cafe, but it really is a restaurant) that serves a variety of Gujarati and non-Gujarati snacks. Nika got her favorite Chhola Bhatura, and Kanchuki & I ordered Rigna Nu Bhartu and the Undhiyu, along with Phulkas for me and Bajra Roti for K. The Rignra Nu Bhartu was very much like Baingan Bharta, but with less onions – good, but not special. The Undhiyu was fantastic – a medley of vegetables – yam, raw bananas, beans and potatoes – stewed in a spicy coconut and fenugreek gravy.

The accompaniments to the Bajra Roti was the highlight of the meal though – pictures really do speak a thousand words…