Saturday, September 12, 2009

Veggie Nook: Asal

A wholesome experience

Photos: Nagara Gopal

Sumptuous fare Delicious ‘thali’; Popular hangout zone for IT crowd

You may be quite dismissive when told about another North Indian food joint—haven’t you eaten at so many of those already? But Asal, as the name implies, is surely different with its offer of the ‘asali’ or the authentic, pure vegetarian North Indian home food. Its strategic location at the Hitech city with its cosmopolitan conflux makes it a prime choice for those who crave North Indian food.
Asal has a ‘dhaba’ like ambience, very spartan with basic amenities of tables and chairs of cane, bare floors and walls. Of the 80 odd seats, 40 are inside a long hall and the other 40 are placed outdoors. You find an open kitchen on entering where the food is cooked right in front of your eyes.
Old fashioned coal stoves are kept burning to keep the brass vessels stocked with food warm throughout the lunch. Unlike the conventionally cooked curries served in other restaurants where oil floats on top when left to simmer for long, here you find no such hazard. Food is just as though cooked at home with minimum oil and spices. Between 12:30 and 2 pm the place bustles with swarming people from the surrounding IT companies. There are people standing and queuing to get the food. The crowd abates as suddenly by 2:30 pm. There are quite a few regulars here and they all admit to being addicted to this taste of ‘ma-ke-haath-ka-khana.’

On a typical day you have the ‘thali’ served with the Indian bread, rice, two dry curries, a wet curry, ‘dal’, and other accompaniments consisting of ‘raita’, pickle, chutney, salad, papad and a sweet. ‘Rotis’ made of wheat flour are the most sought-after here. Service is self-service.
One goes to a restaurant to find good food, good ambience and third, value for money. In this case, it measures up to two of the criterion. If you look for niceties like a relaxing ambience, soothing music or a sparkling washroom, this place isn’t for you. Another outlet of theirs situated on the main road at Madhapur is an older branch offering the same fare.
‘Thali’ with limited quantity is priced at Rs. 55. The same food with unlimited helpings is priced at Rs. 65. On Sundays it is Rs.75 with special items added. Takeaways at Rs. 65 and delivery at Rs. 70 are offered in specially-ordered plastic trays.
The place is open for lunch and dinner from 12 noon to 3:30 PM and again 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

Pluses: Taste of hygienically prepared home food
Minuses: No proper approach road; food may not appeal to the spicier palate
Food: 4/5;
Ambience: 1/5
Located at Hi-Tech City behind Cyber Towers

This article was published HERE.