By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, June 14: When pieces of succulent, juicy, spicy and smoked chicken inspired by a recipe from Mumbai's popular Mohammad Ali Road, are served in cutting chai glasses, you know that presentation is as important and spot-on as the taste of the wild (oops, wide) menu at the uniquely named boutique studio-in-bar Junglee Billee.
The name of the eatery does leave you curious and wide-eyed. But what left me more awestruck when I made my way through a narrow staircase at this hang-out in the bustling Delhi-favourite M-Block Market of Greater Kailash-1 were the summer-fresh colours of the walls, the quirky upholstery, intriguing posters, innovative vintage curios and the intriguing crockery. What's more, the home furnishings are all available for purchase and customisation.
For those privy to fashion designer Nida Mahmood's colourful touch, no prizes for guessing who's behind the concept of the set-up. But behind the menu is Junglee Billee's Head Chef Pawan Bisht, who comes with almost a decade's experience and is a spirited man brimming with fresh ideas.
The food menu is heavily inspired by 'Mumbaiya' and Gujarati food, but there are also European treats. And innovation, Mixologist and Head of Operations Srishti Sethia said was at the core of the mocktail and cocktail menu here. A sip of the coastal cooler -- a mix of coconut, coriander and kokum -- tells you why.
My taste buds were teased by khandvi chaat. It may not sound like a tempting option when the menu offers so much more, but for those looking at a clean, light-on-the-tummy and stylish take on the Gujarati specialty khandvi -- spiced and seasoned gram flour rolls -- this one's a must try.
If the chaat delights are what you go for to Junglee Billee, do pick the vitamin kurmure bhel. Of course, at Rs 240 sans tax, this one's much more expensive than what you get from the streetside Bhelpuri-waale bhaiyya, but the interesting use of apples and pomegranate in this healthy option made it the 'I'd like to go back and have more of it' delight for me.
Food apart, Junglee Billee also has a customised range of jewellery in association with Swarovski, which has also done a few posters of Indian cinema's powerful ladies for this joint. Some of the posters -- featuring the likes of Shabana Azmi and Rekha -- on the wall leading to the second floor, are a delight for a cinema buff.
A vintage touch to the two floors of this space is added by elements like cameras, typewriters, binoculars, vintage fans, lamps, table fans and women's vanity items like combs, hand-embroidered velvet pouches and hand mirrors. The terrace is a bonus and will perhaps be better used in the winter season.
Back to the food.
Up next on the table was a cutting chai stand, with cutting chai glasses and skewered pieces of the Mohammad Ali chicken boti kebab. The chef said he took inspiration for this one from a Mohammad Ali Road recipe but added clarified butter and cream to make it more likeable for Dilliwallahs.
The bhaijaan seekh paratha was one-up. Mutton seekh kebabs -- but more coarse than the usual -- were served with a fried paratha, and it's a good-to-go option for those who want to fill their tummy with one dish.
Just when I thought I was done for the evening came the Iranian berry pulao: mutton with fragrant rice topped with fried onions, nuts and dried berries. Inspired by Parsi cuisine, the aroma emanated by this served as an appetiser, but I'd suggest you go for this when you're not too full already. It will taste better.
The cherry on the top came, well, with a cherry on the top -- on the mawa cheesecake.
I'd say a good overall experience of everything that Junglee Billee has to offer will be with multiple visits.
Location: M-24, M Block Market, Greater Kailash 1, New Delhi
Timings: 12 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.
Cost for two: Rs 1,800 + taxes (without alcohol), Rs 2,500 + taxes (with alcohol)
Update: 14 June, 2016