Horn Ok Please, inspired by the highways of India, adds lovely twists to desi food
am frankly quite tired of experiments with food. Give me something new, and my tastebuds are like a happy puppy, but when that new turns into a damp squib, my head hits the wall without much instigation. Fortunately, Horn OK Please saved me from that.
A kitschy bar, drawing inspiration from the rustic décor and culture of highway dhabas — note the customised Hollywood meets Bollywood art on the wall — the food here might look a little different, probably because they are served in cake tins etc, but they taste just fine — tasty, and wholesome. The India-inspired cocktails are impressive too; the ‘mirchi da passion’ (whisky, chilli, passionfruit juice, Cointreau) with the subtle bite of the chilli is in serious competition with the refreshing ‘body cooler’ (light rum, sugar cane juice, jal jeera, coriander). In fact, the latter is good even without the rum.
Glancing over the section that says ‘stuffed poori’, my eyes nearly rolled to the back of my head when I saw the ‘murg malai marke’. But it works — creamy chicken, flavoured beautifully, stuffed inside a mini poori. Who would have thought!
Try the ‘pathar late than never’, which is pathar kebab rolled in a roomali roti, and cut into bite-sized portions. The meat is not overspiced, and even though I would have liked it to be a little more tender, the fact that I can taste meat more than the seasoning is good enough for me. And while ‘stud ka tadka chicken’, taken from the Hyderabadi green chilli chicken, wasn’t cooked all the way, the ‘Popeye da vada’, spinach and Bengal gram vadas, made up for it.
For those who prefer to drink their food, I don’t suppose they’d veer towards the mains much. But they do have more than a good thing or two on the menu. For instance the ‘sarson ka suhaag raat’, one of the best I have had in the city, despite having the cheesiest name ever. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that they don’t resort to using tinned sarson once the season comes to an end. And then there is the beautifully cooked ‘jheenga-loo’ — prawns cooked in spicy Goan gravy, and served with fragrant coconut rice.
Had it been thinner, and served cold, the ‘nahreal’, made with tender coconut, would have been pretty close to the elaneer payasam. This one doesn’t work. Sadly none of the other desserts appealed to me. I’d go back — to try more of the food, and some of the other cocktails — and each time I do I am going to like the names on the menu a little less. That is perhaps my only bone of contention at the moment — the names are way too dramatic for my taste.